2019 Rowland Meyrick Chase tips – Dobbin’s 8/1 chance can land Wetherby Boxing Day feature
Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at Wetherby's Grade Three Rowland Meyrick Chase, the feature race of the Boxing Day racecard at the Yorkshire venue.
While much of the Boxing Day attention will be on Kempton’s King George VI Chase meeting, there is a cracking renewal of the Grade Three Rowland Meyrick Chase going to post at Wetherby, and a competitive contest gets underway at 2.10pm as the fifth race on a seven-race card at the Yorkshire venue.
The race boasts a rich history and several notable winners, but it perhaps doesn’t quite have the same allure as it enjoyed in the past when the likes of high-class chasers Forgive ‘n Forget, The Thinker, Yahoo, Cogent and Strath Royal feature amongst a list of past victors.
The race still attracts a decent calibre of horse however, with the likes of Definitely Red, Cloudy Too and Cape Tribulation all more recent victors; while last year’s winner Lake View Lad returns to defend his crown.
Nicky Alexander’s Lake View Lad (13/2, Ladbrokes) took top honours in this race twelve months ago, beating Captain Chaos by four lengths having beaten the same rival on his reappearance in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.
The Oscar gelding continued his good spell with an excellent third to Beware The Bear in the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, although he failed to complete the course in the Grand National when pulled up.
He possibly needed his reappearance behind Takingrisks in the recent Rehearsal Chase, where he finished fifth behind Takingrisks and a couple of these rivals, and he can do better with that run under his belt. However, he is rated 8lbs higher than when taking this prize last year, and the burden of top-weight might just be enough to prevent a repeat.
Top Ville Ben (3/1, Unibet) finished third in that Rehearsal Chase, where he looked set to win jumping the last only to splutter on the run-in as his stamina gave out, and he eventually crossed the line in third place.
The heavy ground possibly just took enough out of him on that occasion, and he had run well the time before despite perhaps flying too high in the Charlie Hall Chase behind Ballyoptic.
Philip Kirby’s charge goes well at this venue, and he is 2-3 over course and distance, although perhaps his best effort has come when finishing six lengths’ third to Lostintranslation in last season’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase.
Slightly less testing ground here ought to help, but a 3lbs rise in the weights for that recent Newcastle outing might just be enough to anchor him.
JONNIESOFA (8/1, Paddy Power) also contested in that gruelling Rehearsal Chase, and the Well Made gelding finished fourth and beaten six lengths although he never threatened to get involved in the finish, plugging on at one pace.
Rose Dobbin’s charge won three times over hurdles in his younger days, but he’s clearly been difficult to train in recent seasons, returning from a lengthy absence following his run in the 2016 Albert Bartlett Hurdle to win at the first attempt over fences at Carlisle, and he went close to a follow up on his next outing at Haydock.
The Well Made gelding however was absent again for the thick end of two years before returning to action at Ayr in November where he ran out a wide-margin winner over Blakerigg, and he lost no caste in defeat in his Rehearsal Chase fourth.
Turning out here from the same mark, he is low-mileage for one of his years and could still have some scope for better to come. With trip and ground no problem, he could go close.
Wakanda (12/1, Coral) is well capable of taking a handi in this if returning at his best, but Sue Smith’s stable star isn’t the easiest to predict.
Runner-up in this contest two years ago, beaten a head, he went off the boil and posted several indifferent efforts either side of a break which includes last year’s renewal where he finished fourth. He subsequently popped up to win at Haydock when beating Robinsfirth to win the Peter Marsh Chase, although he ran poorly again back there in the Grand National Trial behind the same rival.
The Westerner gelding has won from higher marks in the past, and while he has won here previously he doesn’t have the best record fresh and may just need this reappearance.
Sue Smith also saddles I Just Know (33/1, BetVictor) for the Boxing Day feature at Wetherby, but the Robin Des Pres gelding arrives out of sorts having pulled up when last seen at Bangor in November.
The 2018 North Yorkshire Grand National winner was thought good enough to take his chance in the that season’s Aintree Grand National where he was a faller, and that has possibly left a mark as he has largely failed to fire since over hurdles or fences and he failed to beat a rival home here over hurdles on his reappearance.
He is probably still plenty high enough in the weights at present, and judging on the form of his recent efforts he likely has plenty on his plate again here.
Benny’s King (9/2, Coral) has the hallmarks of a very progressive chaser, and the Beneficial gelding has found improvement since joining Dan Skelton from previous handler Venetia Williams.
A winner of his first two starts over the larger obstacles at Chepstow and Market Rasen last December, he possibly needed his return behind Rocco at Stratford in October, and he duly stepped up for the run when running out a six lengths’ winner at Newbury last month when beating Sametegal.
That form looks decent with the fifth horse home since running well in a competitive Ascot contest, but he has been hit hard in the weights for that success and has yet to race this far so has to prove his stamina for a more extreme distance than he’s faced in the past.
He could still have scope for better however, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go close if seeing out the longer trip although his big rise in the weights could find him out.
Rocco (8/1, Ladbrokes) was building on his debut effort at Uttoxeter where he fell at the last when looking set to go close with that Stratford win, and although the Shantou gelding has been beaten in both subsequent outings, he could have more to offer after just four starts over fences.
Having followed up his success with a third of six runners behind Buster Valentine at Market Rasen, he found only Pistol Whipped too good on his latest outing at Leicester and he remains with scope to do better from this mark.
A former point-to-point winner as well as being placed over this trip over hurdles, he could be set for a big run given his potential for better to come in this discipline and he’s not easily overlooked for his yard which continues in decent form.
Guitar Pete (11/1, Paddy Power) meanwhile tries this trip for the first time since arriving at Nicky Richards from his spell in Ireland, but Dark Angel gelding wasn’t convincing on that occasion, and he may again struggle to see out the distance having been largely campaigned over shorter.
The 2017 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup winner goes well here and is a very capable performer at his best, and he backed up that big-race success with some solid efforts in defeat which include finishing sixth in the 2018 Brown Advisory Plate, as well as finishing third to Baron Alco and Frodon respectively in the BetVictor Gold Cup and Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
Not seen out following that latter run until making a winning return at this venue in November, he was beaten a long way in the latest renewal of the BetVictor Gold Cup and needs to bounce back, although stepping up markedly in trip doesn’t look an obvious move and he is probably high enough in the weights.
Didero Vallis (12/1, BetVictor) won twice over fences last term, scoring at Carlisle and Haydock respectively; and Venetia Williams’ charge ran better than the bare result in subsequent starts on ground arguably too quick for him at Kempton and Cheltenham, the latter of which saw hi finish fifth to Siruh Du Lac in the Brown Advisory Plate.
The Poliglote gelding possibly needed his reappearance behind Flying Tiger at Ascot last month, and he ran with credit over the Grand National fences to finish fifth in the Grand Sefton Chase although he was beaten around 25 lengths in that outing having dropped away from the last fence and run-in.
Eased in the weights following that run, he is only 2lbs higher than his last winning mark while the presence of a 7lbs claimer leaves him with a featherweight; but while the ground shouldn’t inconvenience, he does have stamina to prove over this longer trip and he likely needs to find a fair jolt of improvement if he’s to feature here.
Lachlan Bridge (200/1, Paddy Power) completes the field for this contest, but the veteran Dubawi gelding arrives here out of sorts and he looks hard to make a case for.
A multiple winner in France, he has shown little in three starts for current handler Micky Hammond where he pulled up in successive outings at Sedgefield and here, and he refused to race in the recent Rehearsal Chase when fitted with a hood for the first time.
Cheekpieces are now tried, but he looks none too reliable, and it would be a shock to see him come home in front in this competitive renewal.
Defending champion Lakeview Lad has more to do from higher in the weights than when successful in this race twelve months ago; but it is the recent Rehearsal Chase form that could hold the key to this race, and Nicky Alexander’s charge is one of four runners in the race who comes here from that Newcastle contest.
And it could be JONNIESOFA (8/1, Paddy Power) who can get back on the scoresheet having finished fourth at Newcastle on just his second outing back from a lengthy absence, and the Well Made gelding could be worth chancing here.
Rose Dobbin’s lightly-raced nine-year old had made a winning return to action from almost 23 months off the track when successful at Ayr in November, beating Blakerigg by 16 lengths, and he lost little caste in defeat at Newcastle latest despite being beaten six lengths.
A dual-point to point winner, this test is unlikely to present an issue while the prevailing ground conditions will suit and he remains with scope from an unchanged mark so it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see him competitive again here.
2019 ROWLAND MEYRICK CHASE SELECTION – JONNIESOFA (8/1, Paddy Power)