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Betting Bureau: Skycab value to belie recent form.

Byline: Nick Fox

SKYCAB is worth an interest at the early-morning price of 11-1 to stage a repeat victory in the Daily Telegraph Chase Showcase Handicap (3.05) at Ascot today.

Although this season's form figures of P0P look unappealing, they do not tell the whole story because he would have run very well on his reappearance but for the reins breaking. After that, the Thomas Pink Gold Cup at Cheltenham was always likely to be asking too much of him.

It is only really his run last time out at Kempton that needs excusing and, even then, he was ridden a lot less prominently than usual over a three-mile trip that is probably beyond him.

Skycab races today off a mark only 5lb higher than a year ago, when he never looked in much danger from a long way out.

This year's race is arguably stronger, although Dulas Bay takes out a large part of the market.

Despite all his promise, in particular a very impressive win at Kempton at the end of January, a top offer of 3-1 looks skinny about a horse who has fallen in two out of four starts this season.

At the prices, I would be more interested in the 6-1 chance Cadougold, a former high-class hurdler whose only defeat over fences was when he pulled up lame on the second of his three runs.

He was none too impressive winning against weak opposition last time, but the lack of pace that day wouldn't have suited such a strong-running type.

Spring Margot won very impressively at Exeter last week and remains difficult to assess as he bids to justify morning favouritism in the Rosling King Handicap Hurdle (2.00).

The admirably game mare Regal Holly, winner of a valuable and well-contested handicap hurdle over course and distance in February, is another at the head of the market who is difficult to take on.

Paul Cole's Sporting Ladder is another who will be popular in the Feast of St Benedict Fillies' Handicap (4.55) at Southwell. The way she beat subsequent winner Phoebe Buffay over course and distance last week suggests she has an outstanding chance of following up.

Although saddled with top weight of 10st 2lb, her size and the argument that large weights are easier to carry on the all-weather than turf are good reasons for expecting her to defy the handicapper.

For the Bonza Bottler Day Handicap (3.15), I would not give up on Saafend Rocket, whose poor performance at Lingfield last time was surely not down to the ten-furlong distance alone. He had been in tremendous form before then and it would not be a big surprise if his excellent trainer Andrew Reid can get him back.

With Astle, Companion and Greenhope all likely to have strong support, the price about Saafend Rocket could get ridiculously big. That would be wrong for a colt whose form in handicaps stands up to any of today's rivals.

TODAY'S ADVICE:

Sporting Ladder (nap)

(4.55 Southwell)

2pts win

Skycab

(3.05 Ascot)

1pt win 11-1 Coral

Saafend Rocket

(3.15 Southwell)

1pt win
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 4, 2001
Words:520
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