The Sky Bet Chase was first run in 1948 as the Great Yorkshire Chase. Running at the end of January at Doncaster, this tough three mile handicap chase is not for the faint hearted.
This race makes up part of an excellent Saturday of National Hunt action, and whilst Trials Day at Cheltenham may attract much of the attention, the fare on offer at Doncaster isn’t too bad either, with the excellent seven-race card headlined by this valuable chase contest.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 30th January 2021
- Winner: Takingrisks
- SP: 40/1
- Trainer: Nicky Richards
- Jockey: Sean Quinlan
The trip is 3m for this Listed Handicap Chase, with the going at the track currently described as soft. Offering £75,000 in total prize money, this popular punting contest is one of the handicapping highlights of the winter months.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||3m||Listed||£75,000||13 Runners||1/4 1-3|
Sky Bet Handicap Chase Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2021. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Widely known as the Great Yorkshire Chase, this event regularly attracts the biggest names in the training game. Legendary handler Fred Rimell tops the all-time list in the race with four successes to his name, but of the trainers who are involved this year, it is Alan King and Paul Nicholls who boast the best records with two wins apiece. King sends Canelo into battle this year, whilst Give Me A Copper flies the flag for the Nicholls operation.
Open to all chasers aged five years and older, it is the seven to nine year olds who have dominated proceedings, with 45 of the 59 winners to date falling into that age bracket. Applying that criteria to this year’s field would cut the list of runners down to just eight.
The 25/1 success of The Rainbow Hunter in 2014 has been the only really big shock in this race in the past decade, but that period has nevertheless still featured only one winning favourite, handing supporters of the market leader a loss of £3.00 to £1 level stakes.
|Cap Du Nord||5/2||10st 9lbs||Christian Williams||Jack Tudor|
|Canelo||5/1||11st 4lbs||Alan King||Tom Cannon|
|Give Me A Copper||12/1||11st 5lbs||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
Cap Du Nord – 5/2
One runner who falls bang in the middle of our favoured age category is the current favourite for the race, Cap Du Nord. Hailing from the Christian Williams operation, this one has plenty of experience under his belt with 19 chase starts to his name already, five of which have resulted in wins.
That strike rate of five from 19 is certainly respectable enough, particularly as the vast majority of those runs have come in competitive handicap events, but it is one of his efforts in defeat which makes him of strong interest here. The run-in question came last time out in a Class 2 contest at Kempton when beaten by three and a quarter lengths into second place off a mark of 133. Up six pounds to 139 here, he would not immediately appear to be well handicapped, but that mark begins to look a lot more attractive when we examine the subsequent exploits of the winner and third-place finisher from that Kempton event.
Winning off a mark of 140 that day, Royal Pagaille was hiked up to 156 for his next assignment and duly made a mockery of that rise to hack up by 16 lengths in a Grade 2 event at Haydock. Double Shuffle was the runner 19 lengths adrift in third at Kempton, and the old boy also did his bit for the form when landing a Class 2 event at that track off a mark of 140 next time up. Very solid from a handicapping perspective, Cap Du Nord does nevertheless have questions to answer regarding the trip and going having never won over quite this far, nor on ground this soft.
Canelo – 5/1
Sharing a name with one of the greatest boxers of the modern era, if there is one runner to take the fight to the favourite it may well be the Alan King trained, Canelo. Winner of back to back editions of this in 2016 and 2017 with Ziga Boy, King knows the type needed to succeed and he may well have just the right kind of ammunition in this JP McManus-owned eight year old.
With only eight chase starts on his CV headed into the race, Canelo is not quite so experienced as Cap Du Nord which may be a slight negative; but on the plus side, he is also the less exposed of the two runners. With three wins from four in the current campaign, the most recent of those successes came at Wetherby last time out when a fair bit more impressive than the half-length winning margin would imply. He is up six pounds for that, but the second horse, Snow Leopardess, is a solid yardstick, and it would be no surprise should he prove capable off 148.
The mount of Tom Cannon will be having his second clash with Cap Du Nord here having finished a four and a half length second to that rival over 2m6½f at Newbury in November, and connections will be optimistic that he can turn the tables. Six pounds better off at the weights this time around, and having been doing all his best work late that day, the additional distance here may well be in his favour.
Give Me A Copper – 12/1
Of those a little further down the list, one who may be worth a second look at a nice each way price is Paul Nicholls representative, Give Me A Copper. As an 11 year old, this one does admittedly fall down on the age trend, but we would be inclined to disregard that factor slightly considering just how lightly raced he is for one his age.
He may be three years his senior, but like Canelo, Give Me A Copper will be making only his ninth career chase start here, but unlike the two towards the head of the market this one has already won over this 3m1f trip when landing the Listed Badger Beers Silver Trophy at Wincanton back in 2019. He is seven pounds higher than for that effort, but arrives in excellent heart having finished best of all to finish second behind Rocky’s Treasure at this track last time out. Making up ground hand over first after the final flight in that three mile event, the extra furlong ought to be in his favour and he looks set to go well in the hands of Harry Cobden.
Sky Bet Handicap Chase Winners
|2021||Takingrisks||40/1||Nicky Richards||Sean Quinlan|
|2020||Ok Corral||9/1||Nicky Henderson||Derek O'Connor|
|2019||Go Conquer||8/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Tom Bellamy|
|2018||Wakanda||8/1||Sue Smith||Henry Brooke|
|2017||Ziga Boy||10/1||Alan King||Tom Bellamy|
|2016||Ziga Boy||8/1||Alan King||Brendan Powell|
|2015||If In Doubt||4/1||Philip Hobbs||Tony McCoy|
|2014||The Rainbow Hunter||25/1||Kim Bailey||Nick Schofield|
|2013||Meeting abandoned due to frost|
|2012||Calgary Bay||12/1||Henrietta Knight||Dominic Elsworth|
About the Sky Bet Chase: A January Handicapping Highlight
The North Yorkshire track of Doncaster might be more commonly associated with the flat racing sphere – largely due to the fact that it stages the longest running British Classic in the form of the St Leger Stakes. But the Town Moor venue is also an avid supporter of the National Hunt game, laying on high quality contests throughout the winter months.
Of the notable National Hunt events to be held at the track, one of the most popular – at least from a betting perspective – is this late January Listed Handicap affair. Going under the registered title of the Great Yorkshire Chase, the inaugural edition of the race took place back in 1948. With a three mile trip, and regularly testing ground at the track, stamina is very much the number one requirement for success in this one.
Weather the First Fence to Negotiate
In common with most contests taking placed in the UK at this time of year, the wonderful British weather has proven to be an impossible obstacle to negotiate in this event on a number of occasions.
The first of the 17 abandonments of the race to date – as of 2020 – was actually due to the death of King George VI ahead of the 1952 edition, but each of the subsequent 16 cancelations have been a result of some combination of snow and frost. But for Southwell stepping in to stage the race in both 2006 and 2007, the number of missing editions would be even greater.
Such is the competitive nature of this event, that to land the prize once is a notable achievement. To do so twice therefore merits plenty of respect. As of 2020 just the one horse has managed feat, namely Ziga Boy from the yard of Alan King. He was three and a quarter lengths too good for the field in 2016, and he defied a four pound higher mark in 2017 to score in grand style by three and a half lengths.
Ziga Boy’s Sky Bet Chase Victories
|Position||2016 Race||2017 Race|
|First||Ziga Boy||10st 0lbs||8/1||Ziga Boy||10 st 11lbs||10/1|
|Second||Coologue||10st 6lbs||9/1||Looking Well||10st 1lbs||18/1|
|Third||Buywise||11st 4lbs||8/1||Another Hero||10st 10lbs||8/1|
|Fourth||Pass The Hat||9st 13lbs||10/1||Out Sam||10st 10lbs||8/1|
As impressive as Ziga Boy was, he isn’t the most talented runner to have come home in front here. That honour is shared by Knock Hard (1953) and Bregawn (1983) who both went on to claim top spot in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. E.S.B. (1957) and Nicolaus Silver (1961) meanwhile each took this on the back of a win in the previous seasons Grand National at Aintree.
Rimell Leads The Way
No trainer has really managed to compile a truly formidable record in his event over the years – a testament to just how competitive the race invariably is – but we do have 10 previous multiple winners of the contest, including a handful of real legends of the training game.
It is four-time Grand National winner Fred Rimell who leads the way having also registered a quartet of successes in this event. Gordon Richards won’t be catching Rimell now, but the likes of Nigel Twiston-Davies, Alan King and Paul Nicholls just might, with the trio likely having a good few years of success ahead of them yet.
Age: Nine The Magic Number
We have a familiar pattern emerging when it comes to the age of winner of this contest, with the middle ground seemingly being the place to be. Possibly due to younger performers lacking a little in the way of experience for a race of this nature, and those in double figures likely to have very little room for manoeuvre from a handicapping perspective, it is the eight and nine year olds who are out in front when it comes to number of winners. The nine year olds were just shading it as of 2020 with 19 wins in total.