Mister Whitaker could take three-mile chance in Sky Bet Chase

Big Doncaster handicap an option for Festival winner

  • Wednesday 09 January
  • News
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Ground conditions will dictate whether Mister Whitaker is stepped up to three miles for the first time in his career in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

The Mick Channon-trained seven-year-old is one of 37 entries received for the Listed prize on January 26, for which he is 10-1 joint-favourite with the race sponsors.

Last season’s Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase winner, who is set to bypass an outing in the Listed 32Red Casino Chase at Kempton on Saturday, has not been sighted since finishing fourth in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November.

Jack Channon, assistant to his father, said: “Unless we get a right downpour by Friday, Mister Whitaker won’t be running at Kempton on Saturday.

“He will have an entry next week in a handicap chase at Ascot, and also the Grade Three at Cheltenham on trials day which is the same day as the Sky Bet Chase.

“If the ground turns up soft he will stick at two and a half, but if it is on the quick side we will look at going three miles in the Sky Bet Chase.

“It was always the plan to give him a break after Cheltenham, as he had two quick races.

“I do think he will improve for going up to three miles as that will be his trip going forward.”

Looking further, ahead the Tim Radford-owned gelding could take his chance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Channon added: “He has got an entry in the Gold Cup. It is shaping up to be quite open and my dad and Tim Radford are not ones to shirk a challenge.

“He has got a similar profile to Clan Des Obeaux and look what he did in the King George

“He will be in the Ryanair as well and the handicaps at the Festival if he doesn’t cut it at graded level, so we have all options covered.”

Trainer Peter Niven feels Brian Boranha will have no problems dropping back in trip, having scored over three-miles-five last time out in the Durham National at Sedgefield.

Niven, who won the race as a jockey on Dalkey Sound in 1991 and Carbisdale in 1994 said: “Brian Boranha is grand.

“He is a better ground horse so I have been saving him for a race like the Sky Bet Chase – it is a race I loved when I was riding.

“He won over further last time, but I don’t think the drop back in trip will be a problem at a track like Doncaster. They generally go a nice gallop and it tends to sort them out up the straight, which will suit him.

“His long-term target is the Scottish Grand National and if he could run well in the Sky Bet Chase beforehand, I would be delighted.”

Other notable entries include the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of recent course scorer O O Seven and Gold Present, and Ladbrokes Trophy third Dingo Dollar from the yard of Alan King.

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