Ante-post favourite Bigbadjohn (Rebecca Curtis/Jonathan Burke, 10st 10lb) heads a field of 16 for the £80,000 Listed Sky Bet Chase (3.40pm) at Doncaster this Saturday, January 28.
The prestigious three-mile handicap chase is the richest Jump race of the year at Doncaster and Sky Bet are offering five places for each-way punters.
Bigbadjohn, the 9/2 favourite with Sky Bet, is making his handicap debut over fences. He beat Our Kaempfer, an impressive winner at Kempton Park recently, by six lengths in a novices’ chase at Newbury on November 3 and was far from disgraced when beaten eight lengths by Thistlecrack in a G2 contest for novices at the same course on November 26.
Stablemate Potters Cross (Paul Townend, 10st 13lb, 16/1), successful in the Mandarin Handicap Chase at Newbury on his latest outing, also runs.
Second-season chaser Southfield Royale (Neil Mulholland/James King (5), 11st 7lb, 7/1) is set for his first start of the campaign.
He was the impressive 13-length winner of the G2 December Novices’ Chase over the course and distance last season and subsequently finished fourth in a high-class renewal of the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
But the seven-year-old disappointed behind Zabana on his latest start in a G1 novices’ chase at Punchestown in April, trailing home a well-beaten seventh.
Mulholland, who trains near Bath, said today: “Southfield Royale is as ready as we can get him at home. We haven’t had the most straightforward of preparations but he has schooled well and we are happy with him.
“He won twice on testing ground last season but that is just the way the ground was. He is a Presenting and his breeding suggests the better ground on Saturday should suit.
“We have the likes of the Bet365 Gold Cup and Scottish Grand National as possible targets in the spring. We will get Saturday out of the way first and see where we go.”