HENRY BROOKE will attempt to deliver back-to-back wins in the Sky Bet Chase, Doncaster’s feature jump race of the year, when he partners Brian Boranha in tomorrow’s contest.
Trained near Malton by former jump jockey Peter Niven, Brian Boranha is the sole Yorkshire representative in this prestigious chase, which Brooke won 12 months ago on the Sue Smith-trained Wakanda.
Now eight years of age, the Kate Young-owned horse has not competed since winning last October’s Durham National at Sedgefied, a race which ended in confusion over whether riders should have omitted the penultimate fence or not.
Though the pacesetting Red Giant bypassed the obstacle in error, Middleham-based Brooke and Wakanda jumped the fence to set up victory.
Dropping back in trip to three miles, Brooke – who recently became the first rider to win three successive renewals of Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick Chase – and his mount face 10 rivals in a field headed by ante-post favourite Dingo Dollar.
Alan King’s charge Dingo Dollar is a previous winner at the track and was last seen finishing third in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in early December. Heading the weights is last year’s runner-up Warriors Tale, who was narrowly denied by Wakanda in a blanket finish.
Owned by three-time Grand National winner Trevor Hemmings, Warriors Tale returns following a recent victory over the Grand National fences at Aintree in the Grand Sefton.
Warriors Tale is one of two runners for the 10-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls along with Art Mauresque.
Nicholls is bidding for a third win in the race following the previous triumphs of Colourful Life (2005) and Big Fella Thanks (2009).
There was just half a length between Nicky Henderson’s O O Seven and the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Go Conquer when they finished first and second respectively at Doncaster last month and the pair renew rivalry.
Meanwhile, Catterick-based trainer Phil Kirby has chosen to run stable star Lady Buttons in the Mares’ Hurdle – part of an attractive Sky Bet Chase undercard – after opting to bypass an intended engagement at Huntingdon today.
Already a three-time winner this season, Lady Buttons, owned by Jayne and Keith Sivills, will be ridden for the first time by Tommy Dowson, who is deputising for the injury-sidelined Adam Nicol.
Lady Buttons could renew her rivalry with Phil and Lucinda Atkinson’s Irish Roe, a horse long associated with the aforementioned Brooke.
Runner-up to Maria’s Diamond in the Mares’ Hurdle last year, she could bid to go one better if declared this morning.
Meanwhile, today’s action at Doncaster sees Cracking Find, owned by Ann Ellis and trained by Sue Smith, reappear in a fiercely competitive two-mile handicap chase.
The horse’s first run since landing Wetherby’s Castleford Chase on December 27, high class rivals include Brian Ellison’s Forest Bihan.
Phil Kirby’s Top Ville Ben has been entered for the Grade One RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The exciting novice could reappear in the Towton Chase at Wetherby on Saturday week.