In the Betbright App Open Hunters’ Chase (4.05) at Doncaster on Wednesday, last year’s Foxhunter Chase third Paint The Clouds has an absence of 271 days to overcome but, having won the same race last year after a similar break, is hard to oppose. Warren Greatrex’s 11-year-old was subsequently a beaten favourite in the Bet365 Gold Cup Chase at Sandown and the Champion Hunters’ Chase at Stratford, but should find this a completely different ball game. In fact, he has 11lb and upwards in hand of his rivals, according to official ratings, so this should be the proverbial “shoo in” if he’s anywhere near his best.
In the opening race (2.30) at Doncaster, Divine Spear sets a similarly high standard. Nicky Henderson’s 5-year-old was beaten by Baoulet Delaroque on his hurdling debut over 2 miles 3½ furlongs on Town Moor last month but, with the winner completing a hat-trick in progressively higher grades, he looks well treated, despite a 6lb penalty for winning at Ludlow three weeks ago. Dropped back to today’s minimum trip, the Oscar gelding comfortably drew clear to win by 5 lengths on that occasion and can win again on the way to better things. Of course, there’s always the possibility of something lurking among his largely unexposed rivals but, even so, it will take a smart performance to lower his colours.
Selections: Doncaster 4.05 Paint The Clouds, Doncaster 2.30 Divine Spear, 1-point Win Double