BIG FELLA THANKS (3.00) can repeat last year’s success in the Grade 3 Handicap Chase at Newbury on Saturday. He made an an early exit in the Hennessy at Newbury in November but there was plenty to like about his recent comeback fourth to Riverside Theatre at Ascot. Graham Lee is reacquainted with Big Fella Thanks, which is always a bonus, and underfoot conditions (on the soft side) are perfect.
Ruby Walsh is entitled to be a bit ring-rusty after his lengthy absence but, with Cheltenham in mind, he’ll be keen to blow away the cobwebs as quickly as possible. RANGITOTO (4.10) a son of Old Vic, appears a ready-made winner. Paul Nicholls’ ex-Irish point-to-point winner showed plenty of dash on his racecourse debut at Ffos Las in late January when just failing to contain Doctor Foxtrot (pair clear).
Feature event at Doncaster is the Coral-sponsored Grimthorpe Handicap Chase and, in the absence of original fancy Ballabriggs, the door is open for MINELLA FOUR STAR (3.15) to exploit his low weight. David Pipe’s eight-year-old has been a bit erratic so far in his career but he did nothing wrong at Ffos Las last month when run down close home by Blazing Bailey. Tom Scudamore will surely again adopt forcing tactics and hopefully his jumping will stand up to the test.
D’GIGI (4.25) has had the misfortune to run into two very smart bumper horses at Musselburgh, namely Bygones Of Brid and Felix Yonger, but Keith Reveley’s mare should be sent off a tempting each-way price against some more fashionable southern raiders.