Doncaster preview: Windsor Avenue looks hot in December Chase

14th September 2021

Our 2019 December Novices' Chase preview from Doncaster features Brian Ellison trained horse Windsor Avenue

Windsor Avenue looks worth a wager to get the better of Sam Spinner and land the spoils in the feature race at Doncaster on Saturday, the 3m Grade 2 December Novices’ Chase (14.10).

This Brian Ellison trained seven-year-old has some smart form in bumpers and over hurdles when winning four of his seven starts. He has since taken to chasing this season like a duck to water.

After making all to win unchallenged by 21 lengths at Sedgefield, the son of Winged Love could not have been more impressive when following-up at in a class 3 at Carlisle last month.

Windsor Avenue again went straight to the front and put in some fine leaps, before drawing clear following the last to easily beat Ballymoy by 12 lengths.

The runner-up was rated 13lb higher going into the race, but having loomed up large at the penultimate fence was firmly put in his place.

Given that Windsor Avenue faced a stiff task on paper in giving Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge 5lb, there was simply nothing not to like about the way in which he got the job done.

The December Novices’ Chase is by far his toughest task to date. Windsor Avenue is the apple of Ellison’s eye, however, and looks a top notch chasing prospect who is well worth a crack at this level.

He also looks a far more natural jumper than former top class staying hurdler Sam Spinner, who has also won both his starts this season since being sent chasing, so is much preferred to Jedd O’Keeffe’s stable star.

At 10/11 with BetVictor, Windsor Avenue is thus taken to land the hat-trick in the December Novices’ Chase en route to even better things.

Sky Pirate weighted to plunder handicap chase gold

In the 3m handicap chase (13:00), Sky Pirate is a strong 6/5 fancy with William Hill to cash-in on what looks on a handy mark and open his account over the larger obstacles.

This Jonjo O’Neill trained six-year-old showed progressive and useful form over fences last season.

On his debut in this sphere, he kept on nicely to finish a 4 1/2 lengths runner-up to Drinks Interval at Uttoxeter when sent off favourite.​ ​

The winner, to whom he was conceding 2lb, went on to bolt up next time up at Chepstow by 11 lengths and also ran well when runner-up to Magic Of Light in a Listed contest at Newbury off an official rating of 147.​ ​

There was also a lot to like about Sky Pirate’s run next time at Carlisle when a length second of 10 to Looksnowlikebrian.

He was then in the process of running a huge race off a mark of 134 at Cheltenham when travelling well and making a move – only to get badly hampered and brought down two from home in a competitive affair won by The Young Master.​ ​

Sky Pirate went on to round off the campaign with a solid 17 1/4 lengths seventh of 23 to Any Second Now in the 3m 2f in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, again off 134.

He comes into this having looked sure to go close at Wetherby when travelling strongly and falling four from home, before running really well when second to Flying Angel in a class 2.

Sky Pirate is able to race in this lower grade class off an unchanged mark of 132. So, on the pick of his form, that gives him leading claims from a handicapping perspective.

Cloth Cap taken to capture finale

O’Neill has claims of landing a double on the December Novices’ Chase card with Cloth Cap in the other 3m handicap chase that brings proceedings to a close (15:20).

This Trevor Hemmings owned seven-year-old showed progressive form in five outings over fences, winning twice.

He also ran a blinder when third of 23 to Takingrisks in the Grade 3 Scottish Grand National at Ayr off a mark of 134.

Cloth Cap responded gamely for pressure and nearly snatched second on the run-in to be beaten just four lengths.

It was a tremendous run for one so inexperienced and marked him out as a staying chaser to follow this season.

Having shaped as if badly needing the run on return to action at Chepstow when fourth to subsequent Charlie Hall winner Ballyoptic, Cloth Cap confirmed that view when third of 12 to Militarian in a decent class 3 at Ascot.

He was driven to hold every chance at the last, but made a bad mistake which stopped him in his tracks.

It was therefore to Cloth Cap’s credit that he then stuck to the task well to be beaten just over six lengths.

With those spins under his belt, the son of Beneficial should now be spot on to do himself justice.

He is able to race in this class 2 off an unchade mark of 132. That is just 2lb higher than in the Scottish National.

It gives him a huge shout at the weights. This is also a very weak class 2 for the grade and arguably less competitive than the race he contested at Ascot three weeks ago.

There is simply nothing not to like about the profile of Cloth Cap, and odds of 11/10 with Coral are a true reflection of his chances.

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