JONATHAN BURKE has been handed the plum ride on Bigbadjohn, ante-post favourite for tomorrow’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
It is a chance for the young Irish rider to return to pre-eminence after an injury-plagued season that saw him lose his job as retained rider to former Yorkshire miner Alan Potts and his wife Ann.
Trained in Wales by Rebecca Curtis, Bigbadjohn came to prominence when chasing home Thistlecrack, the subsequent King George hero, at Newbury at the end of November. On that occasion, the horse was ridden by Jonathan Moore whose association with Curtis came to an end shortly afterwards.
Curtis also saddles Potters Cross in a 16-strong field headed by Ziga Boy. The Alan King-trained grey defeated Coologue by three and a quarter lengths to take the prize 12 months ago and the latter, from Charlie Longsdon’s stable, is again in opposition. Longsdon also saddles Long Lunch.
The weights for the three-mile feature are headed on 11st 12lb by Venetia Williams’s Tenor Nivernais, the Colin Tizzard-trained Third Intention and Jonjo O’Neill’s Holywell. O’Neill is also responsible for Another Hero. Howeve,r the two Yorkshire entires, Wakanda and Sun Cloud, were both withdrawn yesterday.