Dynamite Dollars bids to confirm himself as a leading contender for the Arkle Trophy with victory in the Napoleons Casino & Restaurant Owlerton Sheffield Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster.
The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old has been a revelation since having his attentions switched to jumping fences, winning three of his four starts including big-race victories in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown and the Wayward Lad at Kempton.
Dynamite Dollars’ only defeat during that spell came at the hands of Kayley Woollacott’s Arkle favourite Lalor at Cheltenham in November and he will be a warm order to add to his tally at Grade Two level this weekend.
Nicholls’ assistant Harry Derham said: “We have one day in mind and that’s in March.
“He’s not absolutely primed for Saturday and I’m sure he’ll improve, but at the same time we’d be hoping he’s fit and well enough to run very well.
“He’s having a great season and chasing has really been the making of him.”
Dynamite Dollars concedes weight to each of his three rivals in the hands of Harry Cobden.
Ballywood has won his last two starts for Alan King – most recently scoring over the course and distance – but faces a significant step up in class.
Speaking on his website www.alankingracing.co.uk, the trainer said: “Ballywood is two from two over fences, and though he didn’t do much in front when winning over the course in December, he only celebrated his fifth birthday three weeks ago and he did jump very well up there.”
Brian Ellison’s Ravenhill Road and Charles Pogson’s outsider Shady Oaks complete the line-up.
The Lightning Novices’ Chase is the first of three Grade Two contests on Saturday’s card, the others being the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle and the OLBG.com Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle.
Nicholls runs Truckers Lodge in the River Don, who steps up in grade after winning and finishing second in successive Chepstow handicaps.
Derham said: “He’s an improving horse and he’s going into the race in good form.
“It’s a step up for him – going into a Grade Two – but it’s probably not the strongest Grade Two and there aren’t many runners.
“He’s fit and well and a very straightforward horse who is tough and game.
“I’m sure he’ll run his race and we’ll see if that’s good enough or not on the day.”
Bailarico (Warren Greatrex), Commodore Barry (Kim Bailey) and Nadaitak (Ben Pauling) are Truckers Lodge’s three opponents.
The Phil Kirby-trained Lady Buttons is the star attraction in the Mares’ Hurdle, switching back to the smaller obstacles following successive wins over fences.
Kirby said: “We were looking at running over fences in the two-and-a-half-mile mares’ chase at Huntingdon on Friday, but we decided this looked the better option.
“We know two miles is her best trip and she loves the track. We can’t use going right-handed and going a bit too far as an excuse, whereas we could have at Huntingdon.
“I don’t think the hurdles are going to be a big issue. She might be fractionally better over fences, but the track and trip are perfect.”
Provided Lady Buttons comes through her latest assignment unscathed, she is set to head to the Cheltenham Festival in March – potentially for a clash with Altior in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Kirby added: “As long as she’s all good after the weekend hopefully we’ll go straight to Cheltenham.
“That (Champion Chase) was the plan last week, but we’ll see what happens on Saturday.
“She’s also in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and nothing is set in stone at this stage.”
Lady Buttons faces five rivals including course and distance winner Irish Roe and the prolific Chica Buena.