IN-form trainer Sue Smith’s steeplechaser Wakanda could attempt to complete a big race Doncaster double – weather permitting.
Winner of last month’s dramatic Sky Bet Chase in a five-way finish, the horse heads the field for this Saturday’s Grimthorpe Chase on Town Moor.
Wakanda, who was ridden to victory by Henry Brooke, runs in the colours of Margaret Scholey and her late husband Ray, with their Grand National hope I Just Know – a high-profile Catterick winner last month – also featuring among the 17 entries.
This three-and-a-quarter mile race has been won in the past two years by Grand National contenders The Last Samuri and Definitly Red, which is why former champion trainer Paul Nicholls has entered Vicente and Warriors Tale, who was caught on the line by Wakanda in the Sky Bet Chase.
Yet the Nicholls pair both hold entries in Kelso’s Premier Chase entries on the same day, a race which has seen the aforementioned Smith enter both Blakemount and the veteran Cloudy Too.
Both the Doncaster and Kelso races also feature Sandy Thomson’s top-class Seeyouatmidnight, who has been absent all season.
However, much will rest on the weather as Arctic-like temperatures play havoc with the fixture list.
Today’s National Hunt card at Leicester was the first casualty while the meeting at Catterick hinges on an early morning inspection – the forecast snow had materialised when clerk of the course Fiona Needham assessed conditions yesterday.
The same applies to Chelmsford, which will hold an inspection at 8am to check that its all-weather Flat track is raceable. This, ironically, is a meeting that was added to the fixture list last week when the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ was first forecast.
However, tomorrow’s meeting at Market Rasen and Thursday’s fixture at Taunton have already been called off. Meanwhile Southwell and Newcastle will host all-weather Flat races for National Hunt horses on Friday and Saturday respectively.