Ascot Chase Raceday - Saturday 16th February 2019
12.30 Thames Materials Novices’ Hurdle (Racing TV)
A bumper nine-race card gets under way at 12.30 with Nicky Henderson’s I Can’t Explain bidding to return to winning ways. He was easily brushed aside by Jarveys Plate over an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham on New Years’ Day.
Philip Hobbs saddles the unbeaten Deise Aba, a six-year-old son of Mahler. He was value for more than the one and a half lengths winning margin over Queenohearts at Chepstow in November. Dashel Drasher got off the mark over hurdles at the fourth attempt at the same course and looks the best of the remainder.
Tip: DEISE ABA
13.00 Ascot Supports Berkshire Community Foundation Handicap Hurdle (Racing TV)
Ballyandy was a late defector from the Betfair Hurdle, probably because of the drying ground. He has an extra three furlongs to travel here and that should bring his stamina into play. Darling Maltaix was possibly flattered by his easy victory at Ascot in December. The going was very soft that day and the leaders fell in a bit of a heap turning for home. The handicapper put him up 12lbs and he was not disgraced to finish fifth in the Lanzarote next time.
Sussex Ranger won under a big weight at Fontwell on Boxing Day but is unproven at this distance. Umnedi made all to beat Birds Of Prey at the same course last month, despite some erratic hurdling. The runner-up is no mug so a rating of 130 could prove lenient on his handicap debut. Cloudy Glen is also an improving sort and had plenty in hand when scoring at Chepstow last time. He has gone up 12lbs but still gets in here with a handy 10st 5lbs.
Tip: CLOUDY GLEN
1.35 Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (ITV4)
This looks a poor quality renewal of the Reynoldstown Chase, a race won by the likes of Little Owl (1980), One Man (1994) and Mr Mulligan (1996) in the past. It could still prove quite trappy for punters. Top Ville Ben tops the ratings but he has not beaten much in minor events at Hexham and Wetherby.
Yalltari won a Chepstow handicap in December but fell at the first at Exeter the following month. Now McGinty battled on gamely to win at Chepstow when tending to jump to his right. This course may suit him better. Mister Malarky has won at Plumpton and Newbury this season and jumped soundly at the Berkshire track. Coup De Pinceau was well beaten in a Grade 2 at Doncaster.
Tip: MISTER MALARKY
2.10 Keltbray Swinley Chase (ITV4)
Coneygree side-steps a clash with Clan Des Obeaux to carry top weight here. The 2015 Gold Cup winner has been plagued with injury ever since and was well beaten when unseating Sean Bowen in the King George. Regular rider Nico de Boinville is back in the plate on Saturday in the hope of sparking a revival.
Black Corton has struggled in competitive handicaps but returned to his best last time behind Top Notch at Kempton. That was over a shorter trip and he should go well under Bryony Frost now that he steps back up to three miles. Reikers Island blundered away his chance in the Mandarin Chase at Newbury but catches the eye here under 10st 5lbs. He was eventually beaten less than three lengths behind Carole’s Destrier and is given the vote for our Ascot tips.
Tip: REIKERS ISLAND
2.45 Betfair Denman Chase (ITV4)
A disappointing turn-out for the re-scheduled Denman Chase. Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River was withdrawn as Colin Tizzard felt that Ascot would not suit his dour stayer. King George winner Clan Des Obeaux bids to underline his Cheltenham claims and has most to fear from Terrefort.
Nicky Henderson’s grey was an impressive winner at Aintree last Spring but ran lifelessly at Sandown in November. He reappeared to finish third to Frodon in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham and is expected to improve on that effort.
Tip: CLAN DES OBEAUX
3.20 Betfair Hurdle (ITV4)
The re-arranged Betfair Hurdle may have lost £70,000 in prize money but most of the field remains the same. Al Dancer and Getaway Trump dominated the ante-post market and the change of venue should not be a concern for either. Paul Nicholls briefly considered switching Getaway Trump to the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton but has elected to send Grand Sancy instead.
Getaway Trump travelled strongly when second to the highly-regarded Champ at Newbury over two and a half miles. He should cope with the shorter distance and Harry Cobden takes the ride. Al Dancer has been aimed at this valuable prize since bolting up at Cheltenham in December but is up 12lbs in the weights. Mont Des Avaloirs ran far too freely when favourite here last time and is weighted to turn the tables on Lisp on his previous form.
Ar Mest won with a bit in hand at Newbury and has a 5lbs penalty while William H Bonney is up 4lbs for a game success at Huntingdon. There has been each-way support for the lightly-raced Didtheyleaveuoutto who was disappointing at Kempton over Christmas.
Tip: GETAWAY TRUMP
3.55 Betfair Ascot Chase (ITV4)
Waiting Patiently makes his long-awaited reappearance here for Ruth Jefferson. He has not been seen since unseating his rider at the ninth fence in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. His previous start was in this race 12 months’ ago when denying Cue Card a record third victory.
Paul Nicholls has two leading contenders in Cyrname and Politologue. The former romped to a wide margin success in a handicap here in January. The handicapper has raised him 15lbs which puts him within 3lbs of his stable companion. Politologue tried three miles for the first time in the King George but now reverts to his best trip. There was no disgrace in finishing fourth at Kempton and he won over course and distance here in November.
Fox Norton ran an encouraging race on his comeback behind Altior but the form should not be taken on face value. There were only three runners and Altior was not extended to win by seven lengths. He was a close second to the ill-fated Special Tiara in the 2017 Champion Chase and ran well behind Politologue in the Tingle Creek the following season.
4.30 Best Racing on Racing TV Handicap Hurdle (Racing TV)
This race looks wide open but the in-form Trixster and Daydream Aulmes are certain to be among the market leaders. Trixster has won three novice hurdles already this winter, most recently beating Skandiburg at Kelso over an extended two and three-quarter miles. Daydream Aulmes is chasing a four-timer for Graeme McPherson, his latest victory coming off a mark of 116 at Huntingdon. He has gone up 7lbs with Sam Twiston-Davies taking the reins.
Lygon Rock was beaten only two and a half lengths by Paisley Park at Aintree in October. The winner is now 2-1 favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham but Lygon Rock is racing off only a 1lb higher mark on Saturday. Henry Daly’s gelding has been beaten twice at Cheltenham since. Modern Warfair is a stable companion of Trixster, also a last-time-out winner for Tim Vaughan. He needed every yard of the three miles to win at Doncaster and is up 5lbs.
Tip: DAYDREAM AULMES
5.00 British EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Racing TV)
This could be a very big day for Paul Nicholls and he will be hoping to sign off proceedings with a winner in Silver Forever. The grey mare won at Chepstow in November before finishing third to Timetochill at Huntingdon.
Subway Surf made all to win at Ludlow for Kim Bailey last month and Lunar Baby won for the O’Neill father and son combination at Warwick. Both have plenty of scope for improvement. Alan King has a good record in these races and Eyes Right left her debut run well behind when second to Who What When at Newbury over a mile and a half. The winner followed up in a Listed race at Market Rasen.
Tip: LUNAR BABY