It hasn’t been the greatest of weeks for horseracing following the Newbury tragedy, but one excellent piece of news was that the veteran grey Monet’s Garden has returned home to Greystoke in Cumbria following a life-threatening illness. Nicky Richards’ stable star won today’s feature Ascot Chase twice in the last four years and although it may not be a vintage renewal we have a fascinating contest to consider.
Pride Of Dulcote (3.00) is unbeaten in two starts over fences and is currently a 16/1 shot with Victor Chandler for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next month. He bypassed the Irish Hennessy last weekend to wait for Ascot and is taken to maintain his 100% record over the larger obstacles, despite the fact that the 2m 6f trip is, arguably, on the sharp side for him. Riverside Theatre finished runner up in the King George last month but, with Kauto Star not at his best, something had to finish second to facile winner Long Run and the suggestion is today’s favourite was flattered by his finishing position.
Ascot Chase: prices from
Riverside Theatre 7/4
Pride Of Dulcote 2/1
Deep Purple 7/1
Big Fella Thanks 12/1
Racing Demon 33/1
I wasn’t convinced Master Of The Hall (1.50) would appreciate the step up to 3m at Huntingdon last time but the further he went the better he was and I take him to follow up in the four-runner Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase.
French raider Royal Tune (2.25) has been raised a stone for his cosy victory at Ffos Las last time but could still be ahead of the handicapper. Ogee is on a very favourable mark but with rain forecast he is best left until the spring when he gets better ground.
The weights for the Grand National were unveiled in London on Tuesday and there is a competitive trial for the race at Haydock where Le Beau Bai (3.20) can reverse recent Warwick form with West End Rocker. The latter is currently 25/1 for the National but if he were to win well those odds would shorten dramatically for the Aintree showpiece.
Grand National Trial: ew ¼ odds 1, 2, 3: prices from
West End Rocker 5/1
Le Beau Bai 8/1
King Fontaine 17/2
Silver By Nature 9/1
Nicto De Beauchene 10/1
Court In Motion (2.10) cannot be opposed in the 3m Novice Hurdle despite giving weight to each of his seven rivals; he was most impressive at Warwick last time and although his stamina must be taken on trust his class ought to see him home in this grade.
Connections of Bensalem (2.45) are protecting his handicap mark over fences for another crack at the Festival Chase at Cheltenham next month but en route he can pick up today’s Rendlesham Hurdle with Any Given Day yet to prove his stamina for this 3m trip on soft ground.
The nap of the weekend is Mille Chief (3.45) in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton. The recommendation receives weight from his principle rivals and if he is to become a realistic contender for the Champion Hurdle he ought to win. Overturn and Celestial Halo will ensure there is a decent gallop and that will suit Alan King’s five-year-old. The stable’s Katchit became the first 5-y-o since See You Then back in 1985 to win Hurdling’s Blue Riband event when he landed the prize in 2008 and the trainer has gone on record as stating Mille Chief is superior to him!
Earlier in the card Carlicue (2.35) could have been let in lightly by the handicapper having won his maiden at Ffos Las last month. A winning point-to-pointer McCoy takes over and any further rain would not inconvenience. Vagrant Emperor has failed to confirm the promise he showed at Newbury back in November when returning from a long lay off but a market move would be worth noting.
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