1.15 - Join Kim Bailey Racing Novices' Hurdle (2m3½f)
Hecouldbetheone has won over timber at Fontwell and Plumpton - latterly over 2m4½f - either side of a good second at Newbury in January. He made all last time, never in danger of being turned over at long odds-on. He has his penalty to shoulder now but should go well again for the Gary Moore team.
Unanswered Prayers posted figures of 1221 over hurdles this season before finishing a well-held fourth at Doncaster last month. That was a rise in class/trip for the Grade 2 River Don Novices' Hurdle and he could easily get back on an upward curve with sights lowered today.
Kap Auteuil has developed into a fine chaser and Toby Lawes' runner is potentially well-handicapped if translating that form now back over hurdles, but SKYTASTIC could be hard to pin down for Sam Thomas' team here.
The dual bumper winner was well-touted ahead of last month's jumping bow at Doncaster (2m3½f, good) and he made a striking start. His technique was good and he was far from fully extended in leaving his rivals strung out in behind.
There's surely more to come from him now and he did win a Town Moor bumper on good-to-soft last February so conditions should be fine.
Next Best: Hecouldbetheone
1.50 - Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices' Chase (Grade 2, 3m)
Does He Know won his first two starts over fences, taking the scalp of progressive Threeunderthrufive at Chepstow in October, before shedding his perfect record when second to that same Paul Nicholls-trained inmate at Cheltenham in November (only two finishers).
He was beaten around four-lengths that afternoon and the winner has since landed successive Grade 2 wins Doncaster and Warwick. He is clearly a player again now and trainer Kim Bailey thinks plenty of him.
Doyen Breed was second to the same Threeunderthrufive at Warwick last month, though in receipt of 5lb, and is entitled to throw his hat in the ring again for Sandy Thomson now.
Both Doyen Breed and Corach Rambler have accounted for J'ai Froid this season already, with Lucinda Russell's charge potentially over-taxed in the stamina department on his most recent outing at Warwick over 3m5f. He could do better here in first-time tongue-tie.
FERN HILL twice finished second in novice company in December for trainer Ben Case. The form of those contests is solid and a mark of 136 could be within range here. All of his form comes on soft ground so he's got the benefit of conditions in his favour and he's one that can improve.
Selection: Fern Hill
Next Best: Does He Know
2.25 - greatbritishstallionshowcase.co.uk Swinley Chase (Listed Limited Handicap, 3m)
This is a first sight of FIDDLERONTHEROOF since he was second in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November behind Cloudy Glen. His earlier defeat of Pay The Piper at Carlisle has been boosted since as well and Colin Tizzard's 8YO is still retaining an entry in next month's Cheltenham Gold Cup.
With Team Tizzard now in excellent form, this talented sort is fancied to deliver a big performance here and potentially afford himself that crack at jumps racing's biggest prize in a few weeks.
Ten are entered in this race but the likes of Ask Me Early and Sojourn are more than likely Wincanton-bound instead.
Caribean Boy was a three-mile soft-ground winner at Kempton last month and did get the better of Fiddlerontheroof last season over shorter as novices. His old rival is the more reliable conveyance since however and can avenge that defeat with stamina to the fore now.
Regal Encore is an old hand in this race, winning in 2018 and placed in the trio of renewals since for Anthony Honeyball. He loves Ascot and, on the revised terms, will likely fancy his chances of at least reversing form with Larry, who won the London Gold Cup here in October under a light-weight. Teenager Regal Encore is 12lb better now today.
Next Best: Caribean Boy
3.00 - Dingley's Promise Handicap Hurdle (2m3f)
Good Risk At All was second behind Jonbon at Newbury in November, a falsely-run race in which his jumping was far from fluent. Last month's handicap bow at Warwick (2m, soft) saw him only narrowly failed to overhaul progressive Barrichello. With this longer trip to be a positive, Sam Thomas' charge is sure to be front and centre again from a 3lb higher mark.
The likes of Straw Fan Jack (first-time cheekpieces) and Highway One O Two are potential places contenders, while Cap Du Mathan defied a 714-day absence to win well at Taunton last month over this sort of trip on soft going for champion trainer Paul Nicholls. He's 9lb higher now.
ZACONY REBEL is progressing over hurdles this season, with figures of 121 beside his name. He really enjoyed the soft ground last time at Ludlow over two-miles and ran out a convincing winner against fellow novices. This is more demanding but improvement is likely now that he goes up in distance.
Selection: Zacony Rebel
Next Best: Good Risk At All
3.38 - Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1, 2m5f)
The Grade 1 feature of the afternoon and a contest in which lone Irish raider FAKIR D'OUDAIRIES might export the prizemoney for Joseph O'Brien and Mark Walsh.
An impressive winner of the Melling Chase at Aintree last season over 2m4f, he then took third behind Clan Des Obeaux and Al Boum Photo in the Punchestown Gold Cup.
Both runs in Ireland this season have come in races won by Allaho, the pre-eminent middle distance performer in Britain and Ireland now. He was also second to that same opponent in the Ryanair at Cheltenham last season.
No doubt with Allaho in mind, this could prove an excellent bit of placement from connections in targeting this Grade 1 prize a few weeks shy of Cheltenham.
Dasher Drasher won this contest a year ago, though it came apart somewhat for him, and he was behind Two For Gold recently at Lingfield.
The big danger could be Lostintranslation, who looked to be right back on track when scoring over C&D in a Grade 2 in November. His King George run since, where he was behind today's rival Saint Calvados is one to forgive.
That rival, meanwhile, was having his first start for new trainer Paul Nicholls on Boxing Day in finishing third. The champion trainer bids to win this race a record fifth time and suggests there's more to come Saint Calvados on this second appearance post wind op.
Fanion D'estruval cannot be eliminated with confidence for the red-got Venetia Williams team, while Mister Fisher was back on track in a Kempton Grade 2 last month. Waiting Patiently, however, has much to ponder these days.
Selection: Fakir D'oudairies
Next Best: Lostintranslation
4.10 - Ascot Racecourse Supports The Autism In Racing Handicap Hurdle (2m7½f)
Imphal is the logical starting point. The Nathaniel gelding has already won four times this season over hurdles, including at Wincanton in January over an extended three-miles. He's only gone up another 4lb for that success and while this looks a tougher race, he is likely to go well again.
Art Of Diplomacy had plenty to spare when making it two wins in three for new handler Dr Richard Newland at Catterick last month and his 10lb rise is partially offset by Cillin Leonard's claim.
They join the likes of Grosvenor Court, Bean In Trouble and possible improver Atakan on the extended shortlist but SIROBBIE could be worth chancing in an open race.
He bumped into one when second at Plumpton at the start of the month but that still amounted to his best effort since joining David Bridgewater. Eased again by the assessor, he's now 4lb below his last win-mark and Alfie Jordan can further ease his burden with a 7lb claim. The 8YO should strike soon.
Next Best: Art Of Diplomacy
4.45 - British EBF Mares' Open NH Flat Race (1m7½f)
Not your typically strong Ascot bumper, it seems, and ROC OF DUNDEE might well follow up her win at Wetherby win five weeks ago for Donald McCain. She did that from the front and had something to spare, with the runner-up second since to what looked an above-average newcomer from the Dan Skelton team.
That offers encouragement, while the penalty she carries for that winning racecourse bow is offset and more by Peter Kavanagh taking over in the saddle.
Unless newcomers Ilovethenightlife for Colin Tizzard or Presenting A Queen for Chris Gordon are market springers, this should be a good chance for the Shirocco mare to oblige again.
Selection: Roc Of Dundee
Next Best: Presenting A Queen