Only one place to start and that is with the 25th Anniversary of the Victor Chandler Chase the feature race on a terrific card from Ascot. The Grade 1 race is run over 2m 1f and has been won by some of the greats of the turf down the years including the great Desert Orchid back in 1989.
It is a terrific renewal with last year’s Arkle runner up Finian’s Rainbow heading the market having overcome a bad blunder four out to take the Desert Orchid Chase on his reappearance at Kempton. This race has been targeted for some time and he is a worthy favourite with the forecast soft ground a help.
Al Ferof is unbeaten over fences and could be anything. The Champion trainer Paul Nicholls goes for his fifth win in the race and his fourth on the spin and the grey has looked a natural over the larger obstacles in both starts but I just think he might be best served on faster ground and he is overlooked.
The ground is also a slight concern for Wishfull Thinking (3.05) but the Philip Hobbs runner gets the nod despite the fact that he has a bit of ground to make up on the favourite on Kempton running. At the start of the season the selection tried to make all over 2m 4f but he has had trouble breathing and he was dropped back to the minimum trip and help up last time. If jockey Richard Johnson can time his run right I think he will have the race run to suit and can reward each way support.
Note we at BetVictor to mark the 25th anniversary of the sponsorship will refund as a free bet new and existing customers who place a bet of £25 irrespective of whether or not your selection wins or loses. Thus you can back the winner and still get your money back.
Victor Chandler Chase; ew ¼ odds 1, 2, 3
Finian’s Rainbow 2/1
Al Ferof 11/4
Wishfull Thinking 6/1
Vino Griego (1.00) has travelled like a good horse in his last couple of starts and, despite top weight, I think the drop back in trip will suit in the Ascot opener.
The Bet Mobile at BetVictor.com Handicap Hurdle is a cracker; I like the booking of Barry Geraghty for Shoreacres (2.35) despite the fact that he is 5lb higher than last time. Dropped back in trip Geraghty is likely to make it a true test of stamina and he certainly deserves to get his head back in front.
I own Zaynar in partnership with a number of friends and he loves it around Ascot; he may not have his own way out in front but I can’t tip against him; I am hoping to have the enviable task of presenting myself with the prize after the 3.45! I think the progressive All For Free will run well at the foot of the weights despite being 1lb out of the handicap.
At Haydock the Peter Marsh Chase can go to Bold Ransom (3.30) despite the fact that he has been raised 9lbs for winning over a marathon 3m 4f at the Lancashire track last time. He gets into this race near the foot of the weights and with the ground sure to be testing can land what promises to be a war of attrition. It is almost three years since Mon Mome last won a race; but it was the Grand National and he showed something like his old sparkle when runner up at Cheltenham over the New Year.