ALAN King has been eyeing the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster for the improving Canelo ever since his Rowland Meyrick success at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old has always been highly regarded at Barbury Castle Stables, and is now delivering on that promise.
A win at Aintree was followed by a runner-up spot to Cap Du Nord at Newbury, before he beat Snow Leopardess over Christmas.
“He’s done very little wrong this year and has been very progressive since we put the headgear (cheekpieces) on him,” said King who trained Ziga Boy to win successive renewals of this race in 2016 and 2017.
“He’s improved race for race, and this looked the logical place to go after his win in the Rowland Meyrick.
“That might have been a decent race – he beat the right horse (Snow Leopardess), who had won at Haydock before.
“He’s on 148 now, he travels very well through his races but might not do a whole lot when he hits the front. I’m hoping there’s a bit more to come from him.
“This will be another test, but it looked the obvious place to come after Wetherby.”
Aye Right bids to gain due reward for a series of consistent efforts.
Trained in the Scottish Borders by Harriet Graham, the eight-year-old was second over an inadequate two miles and a furlong first time out this season to subsequent Old Roan winner Nuts Well.
He was then a very creditable third to Cyrname in the Charlie Hall Chase before posting arguably a career-best effort when second in the Ladbrokes Trophy to Cloth Cap.
Since then, Aye Right, the mount of Callum Bewley, has run in a jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle – where he showed up well for a long way before finishing sixth – but Graham does not want the ground to get any softer.
Graham said: “He’s a very consistent horse and he’s easy to train. He’s always jig-jogging and loves to go out. We sometimes feel we do too much with him, but Callum (Bewley) said he couldn’t pull him up the other day – he nearly went round again.
“We’ll not run if it gets heavy, but the forecast is much more positive now. In an ideal world I’d have liked it to be good to soft – and probably over another three furlongs.”
Trainer Olly Murphy has always had a high opinion of The Butcher Said, but he fears the ground may be too testing this weekend for him to show his best.
Meanwhile, Paul Nicholls runs Give Me A Copper, who is part-owned by legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
“He hasn’t been the easiest to train and made a very pleasing return from a year off when keeping on stoutly to run Rocky’s Treasure close at this track last month,” said the trainer.
“Doncaster suits him well – he handles the ground, and we know he is a proper stayer. Give Me A Copper is in serious order at the moment, which is key to his performance. When he is right, he is a good horse.”
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