Royale flush at Doncaster
Frank Monkhouse | 27 January 2017
We give a pick in every race on Saturday
Not to be overshadowed by the action over at Cheltenham, Doncaster host a fascinating day of racing on Saturday, headlined by the 3.40pm Handicap Chase.
This year’s event has attracted a 16-runner field, including defending champion Ziga Boy, who got the better of another of Saturday’s line-up in Coologue by over three-lengths last time. Allan King’s eight-year-old grey delighted punters when scoring off a handy SP that day, and looks well-priced again, but I don’t envisage a repeat this weekend.
Royale ready for business
One I am expecting to give us a run for our money however is Southfield Royale, who’s sent to South Yorkshire by trainer Neil Mulholland. The talented seven-year-old gelding is seen in action for the first time this season, following a respectable effort in the Grade One Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown back in the spring.
Punters can take plenty of confidence from recent success, including victory at this track little over a year ago in the December Novices Chase, absolutely destroying the field to trail Coologue home by 13 lengths, oozing class in doing so. That positive followed hot on the heels of a similar showing at Wetherby the time before, winning by 20-lengths vs Zeroshadeofgrey.
Mulholland told racing enthusiasts that Southfield Royale is as ready as can be for this test and, despite winning a couple of times on testing ground, he should take to the conditions on Saturday with minimal fuss, and the challenges of the race should play to his strengths. If getting the kind of performance out of him in this race that’s expected, they are targeting the Scottish Grand National.
That glowing reference should hold plenty of weight with punters and the selection seems to tick all the right boxes. Having held his own in better company, he has already proven himself over track and trip, and should also relish the going. Available at 7/1 with Coral at the time of writing, that looks a punter-friendly offer.
Vroum Vroum Mag makes sense
Next best of the card lines up in the race before, the Grade Two Doncaster Mares Hurdle at 3.05pm. A tight five-runner affair, Vroum Vroum Mag gets the nod under the guidance of jockey Paul Townend.
Priced as if she need only turn up to bank the prize money, Willie Mullins’ eight-year-old mare is race favourite for obvious reasons. She was last seen winning the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, denying Clondaw Warrior by little over a length. She has finished no higher than second in her career, now standing at 11 wins and one runner-up, and although this is a warm-up in the grand scheme of things, I expect her to be red-hot.
12.50 – Asum
1.25 – Happy Diva
1.55 – Upsilon Bleu
2.30 – Cloudy Dream
3.05 – Vroum Vroum Mag (NB)
3.40 – Southfield Royale (NAP)
4.15 – Midnight Charm