Sky Bet Chase 2011  

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King Fontaine and Merigo Set for Sky Bet Chase

Scottish Grand National hero Merigo (20/1 with Sky Bet ) and the progressive King Fontaine (14/1) are intended runners among 29 acceptors at the five-day confirmation stage for the Listed £75,000 Sky Bet Chase (3.20pm) over three miles at Doncaster on Saturday, January 29.

King Fontaine
© Grossick Racing Photography

King Fontaine
The Malcolm Jefferson-trained King Fontaine is seeking a fifth straight victory but has to contend with a 15lb rise up the handicap following an easy 11-length success over Dance Island (40/1) in a three-mile handicap chase at Haydock on November 20.

The Trevor Hemmings-owned eight-year-old had been due to contest the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock last Saturday but now heads to Doncaster after that fixture was lost to the weather. He has been allocated 11st 3lb.

Jefferson revealed today: “King Fontaine is going to the Sky Bet Chase. Graham (Lee) was saying he will probably be better on good ground because he struggled a bit to jump out of that real testing ground at Haydock. I don’t think he would mind decent ground, so long as there’s no firm in it. We might get a drop of rain this week, so we’ll see - the intention is to run there.

“He went up too much for his last win but he’s a nice horse and some horses handle it. He’s not a great big horse but he’s strong and well put together. I don’t know whether he should have gone up as much as that but we just have to get on with it.”

Trainer Andrew Parker is hoping the 10-year-old Merigo can post a good effort in the Sky Bet Chase to book a place in the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree in April.

Parker revealed today: “Merigo is intended for the Sky Bet Chase at this moment. He’s a horse that always comes to hand after Christmas - basically, he’s a spring horse. He is in great form, so we just need to get some miles on the clock this season because he’s only had one and a half runs with his fall at Aintree last time.”

© Grossick Racing Photography

Merigo was travelling comfortably when falling midway through the Becher Chase at Aintree in November and hasn’t raced since, but Parker reports his charge to be in good heart ahead of Saturday’s test.

The Lockerbie trainer continued: “He jumped very well in the Becher Chase until he fell. He’s a horse that is not the most extravagant of jumpers - he’s one you just let go from A to B. Timmy (Murphy) kicked himself because he said he just fired him at one trying to keep him in the race and it’s not really the thing to do with him. It hasn’t dented the horse’s confidence in any way because I schooled him a couple of days after and he never missed a beat. I actually schooled him this morning and he was fantastic - he’s in fine form for Doncaster.

“He goes on most ground. As long as the ground is not too holding, he doesn’t mind. His ideal would probably be slightly rained on good ground, just to slow the others down a fraction. So long as he can get through it and get into that nice rhythm, that’s his ideal surface.”

Merigo has been allotted 10st 12lb for the Sky Bet Chase, which will be shown live on Channel 4, and has a safety limit of 22 runners plus two reserves.

Parker continued: “If for some reason he doesn’t go to Doncaster, he will probably go to Haydock for the Grand National Trial in a couple of weeks. The intention is to take him to Aintree for the Grand National, if he gets in. It would have been nice to have finished in the frame in the Becher Chase, gone up four or five pounds and then been guaranteed to get a run in April. We might be just a couple of pounds shy of getting in the Grand National, so if not, the Scottish Grand National is a couple of weeks later and it’s not a bad plan B to have!”

Merigo is a 20/1 chance with Sky Bet for the John Smith’s Grand National.

Saturday’s Sky Bet Chase is shaping up to be a fascinating renewal with the in-form Blazing Bailey, 10/1 second-favourite with the sponsor, from the Alan King yard, the progressive Kim Bailey-trained Sarde and Henrietta Knight’s Grand National hope Calgary Bay among those targeting the prestigious contest.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Fistral Beach is Sky Bet’s current market leader at 9/2 and is set to carry 11st 1lb, while stable companion Take The Breeze is top-weight with 11st 12lb.

Nicholls sent Big Fella Thanks to Doncaster to win the most recent renewal of the Sky Bet Chase in January, 2009. Last season’s race was lost due to adverse weather conditions.

Mobaasher won a Pertemps Hurdle qualifier in heavy ground at Warwick on January 15 for trainer Venetia Williams, while Chief Dan George, successful at last year’s Cheltenham Festival for trainer Jimmy Moffatt, is another potential contender.

Others of note among the entries include the James Ewart-trained Sa Suffit, the Neil Mulholland-trained I’moncloudnine, the Stuart Crawford-trained Irish raider Killyglen and the Howard Johnson-trained Presenting Forever.

Matt Doyle of Sky Bet said: ‘The Sky Bet Chase often has a significant bearing on the Grand National market and we are delighted to see last year’s Scottish National winner Merigo among the 29 remaining entries using our race as a stepping stone to Aintree.’


Latest Sky Bet odds: 9/2 Fistral Beach; 10/1 Blazing Bailey; 12/1 Presenting Forever, Calgary Bay; 14/1 I'moncloudnine, King Fontaine, Mobaasher; 16/1 Ikorodu Road, Khachaturian, Killyglen, Sarde, Take The Breeze; 20/1 Chief Dan George, Merigo, Ringaroses, Theatrical Moment; 25/1 Etxalar, Sa Suffit, Wogan; 33/1 Dom D'Orgeval, Door Boy, Aimigayle, Free World; 40/1 Dance Island, Dashing George, Ma Yahab; 50/1 Saphir Des Bois, Burren Legend; 66/1 Quattrocento


The going at Doncaster is currently: GOOD

David Williams, Clerk of the Course and Estates Manager at Doncaster, said: “I am currently calling the ground good. We should see some light rain this week but nothing significant.

“Today we are experiencing a bright sunny day with some breeze, which will probably dry out the ground a bit and ideally we could do with a drop of rain.

“Depending on which forecast you look at, temperatures could get colder later in the week but I can’t envisage any problems at this stage.”



Class 1, Listed Race, £75,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.20pm, Doncaster, Saturday, January 29. For five-year-olds and upwards, three miles. Entries closed January 11, entries revealed January 12 (54 entries), weights revealed January 19. Penalties: after January 16, a winner 5lb. Five-day confirmations January 24 (29 confirmations), final declarations, 10.00am, January 27. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including Sunday, January 23, 2011.

Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer

34103-2 TAKE THE BREEZE (FR) 8-11-12 Mr & Mrs G Calder Paul Nicholls

2/1011P- SA SUFFIT (FR) 8-11-10 Proud To Be Scottish Partnership James Ewart

30011-0 CHIEF DAN GEORGE (IRE) 11-11-09 Maurice Chapman James Moffatt

2313-61 BLAZING BAILEY 9-11-07 Three Line Whip Alan King

P2P-253 KILLYGLEN (IRE) 9-11-07 D McCammon Stuart Crawford IRE

1202-12 PRESENTING FOREVER (IRE) 7-11-06 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson

64-5624 CALGARY BAY (IRE) 8-11-04 Camilla Radford Henrietta Knight

3211-11 KING FONTAINE (IRE) 8-11-03 Trevor Hemmings Malcolm Jefferson

221U5-1 FISTRAL BEACH (IRE) 8-11-01 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls

215P-61 MOBAASHER (USA) 8-11-00 Seasons Holidays Venetia Williams

132-02P DANCE ISLAND (IRE) 8-10-12 Lady Jane Grosvenor Ben Case

0D61-0F MERIGO (FR) 10-10-12 Ray & Anita Anderson Green Andrew Parker

52-U23U IKORODU ROAD 8-10-10 W Odell Martin Keighley

4116P-0 THEATRICAL MOMENT (USA) 8-10-10 Masterson Holdings Limited Jonjo O'Neill

41U0/42- AIMIGAYLE 8-10-09 Pete Mercer Suzy Smith

1/2114-3 WOGAN 11-10-09 Peter Deal Nicky Henderson

4310P-P SAPHIR DES BOIS (FR) 7-10-08 F Lloyd Peter Bowen

P0-24U3 I'MONCLOUDNINE (IRE) 8-10-08 F Matthews Neil Mulholland

3F6-3P0 DOOR BOY (IRE) 8-10-07 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson

315F-0(3) KHACHATURIAN (IRE) 8-10-07 John Glews & Brendan Richardson Donald McCain

0/1P11-0 RINGAROSES 10-10-07 Nicholas Jones/Sir Martin Broughton Jonjo O'Neill

P12-UPP BURREN LEGEND (IRE) 10-10-05 Thomas Thompson Richard Rowe

F414-11 SARDE (FR) 7-10-04 Bill Ives Kim Bailey

PU4-140 ETXALAR (FR) 8-10-01 Elizabeth Ferguson Lucinda Russell

P3225-0 DOM D'ORGEVAL (FR) 11-9-13 A White and A Underhill Nick Williams

4016P2 QUATTROCENTO (FR) 7-9-10 Roddy Owen & Paul Fullagar Peter Bowen

3446P-6 MA YAHAB 10-9-10 M Pilkington Venetia Williams

F2-30(1)4 FREE WORLD (IRE) 9-9-09 Malcolm Denmark Warren Greatrex

0-00000 DASHING GEORGE (IRE) 9-9-07 D & D Coatings Ltd Dr Richard Newland

29 entries remain at five-day confirmation stage

1 Irish-trained

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