With only four weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival the top Grade One chasers will be getting in their final preparation runs, and this weekend we’re off to Berkshire for the prestigious Ascot Chase. It was won last season by Silviniaco Conti and in recent times by stars such as Riverside Theatre, Captain Chris and Kauto Star, and looking at the betting it looks as though a former winner Cue Card will start the race this weekend as favourite.
Expected to go to post as 4/9 favourite, the eleven-year-old certainly looks the one to beat at Ascot. Making a drop back in trip to this shorter distance for the first time since October 2015, we feel his appearance here could be a signal of intent by Tizzard to take him out of the Gold Cup frame and move him to the Ryanair, so he will not come a cropper to Thistlecrack as he did at Kempton.
Starting this season with a third-place finish in the Charlie Hall Chase, he comprehensively beat Coneygree in the Betfair Chase, before his second-place finish on Boxing Day. Rated 9lbs better than any of his rivals in this race, the only negative we have on him is the trip, but having won this race back in 2013, it shouldn’t prove too much of a problem.
20/1 shot Irish Cavalier defeated Cue Card at Wetherby earlier this season, and if he can give a repeat of that form here he has a very good chance. However, since that race his form has been very inconsistent, pulled up at Haydock, he was then defeated 47 lengths by Many Clouds and Thistlecrack. A past winner over this trip, the drop down in distance may be just what he needs to make him the surprise package of the race.
Despite being 8/1 in the betting, Taquin Du Seuil is the second highest rated horse in the race and having had some success over this distance before he is certainly one to consider. He has been sent over three miles this season, and after winning the Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham back in November, we feel the change in trip could be the tonic he needs to get back on track, and help up his trainers strike rate from only 8% this season.
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