Ascot Preview
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Ascot Preview

There's lots of quality jumps racing taking place across Britain and Ireland this weekend and that includes the opening meeting of a new season of National Hunt action at Ascot on Saturday.The Grade 3 London Gold Cup at 3.20pm headlines the Ascot card, with racing at the Berkshire venue from 1.35pm-5.05pm. The Racing Post previews the state of play ahead of Ascot's return to jumps racing.


1.35 - Ascot Underwriting Chase (Novices' Limited Handicap, 2m3f)

Lots of chasing potential on show here. Kid Commando is a good starting point. Anthony Honeyball's charge won over hurdles on this card a year ago and while he didn't quite kick on in four further starts, he does go well fresh and returns to commence his chasing career off the back of a wind operation. He's a point-to-point winner and should take to this challenge.

Solo endured a frustrating season over timber last time for champion trainer Paul Nicholls and is another to have undergone a wind op in the summer. No surprise if he gets himself back on track in the months to come but, for now, a watching brief looks safest.

Whatsupwithyou hasn't scored since his maiden hurdle win here in December 2019 over further on testing ground but he did run good races at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals in the spring just gone and it's entirely likely this winning pointer does better sent chasing.

NASSALAM did well last term after joining Gary Moore from France, winning in great style on his first two starts at Fontwell before a Grade 1 juvenile second at Chepstow (2m, soft) in January. He was only midfield in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham in March but this 4YO has the potential to go places as a chaser and, with the yard amongst the winners lately, is fancied to make a bold start.

Selection: Nassalam

Next Best: Whatsupwithyou

2.10 - Bateaux London Handicap Hurdle (Listed, 1m7½f)

Soaring Glory was a stylish winner of the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February before finishing a remote fourth in the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham the following month in first-time cheekpieces. That's likely not a stick worth beating him with and he's got to hold strong claims on the balance of his form last season, while he also goes well fresh for trainer Jonjo O'Neill.

Ajero won four on the spin last season before coming up well shy in an Aintree Grade 1 in April. He's on a fair mark for this seasonal comeback and returning to a right-handed track can only serve him well. He is a player.

Third in the Fred Winter in March, ELHAM VALLEY was beaten as favourite back at Cheltenham a month later but he was hampered late in that contest before staying on, and the front two showed the form to be decent with their wins next time out. Fergal O'Brien and Paddy Brennan will hope there's more to come from this second-season hurdler and he's an each-way player.

Megan looked set for a big role in the Chepstow race won by Progressive three weeks ago before she came down late, both 4YO fillies are entitled to throw their names in the mix here.

Selection: Elham Valley

Next Best: Ajero

2.45 - Byrne Group Handicap Chase (Listed, 2m1f)

Last year's winner Amoola Gold is a stone higher in the ratings this time around but goes well fresh for Dan Skelton. Though 0-3 after the win here, Amoola Gold did absolutely nothing wrong when second to First Flow here and then Sky Pirate at Warwick in January and he had excuses when eighth behind the latter at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Editeur Du Gite was on the up when last spotted in the spring, winning at Newbury and Aintree, latterly in the Grade 3 Red Rum Handicap Chase off a mark 8lb lower than this one. On that form, he can likely maintain superiority over old foe Sully D'oc Aa.

Top-weight One For Rosie is 2-2 over fences after minor wins at Leicester and Carlisle in the spring. Kim Bailey's gelding has no trouble going well fresh, but this is certainly a tough examination of his credentials.

Getaway Trump is talented but does have his quirks, so the best option might be FRERO BANBOU for Venetia Williams. An Auteuil winner in the spring of 2019 over fences, he missed a chunk of time after joining this handler from France and scored on his fourth run back at Sandown in March having undergone a wind procedure. He went up 13lb for that effort and ran a fair fourth at Aintree behind Editeur Du Gite next start. He has a chunky pull at the weights with that rival now and likely can make progress this winter.

Selection: Frero Banbou

Next Best: Amoola Gold

3.20 - Bateaux London Gold Cup Handicap Chase (3m)

On this day last year, Kim Bailey's Vinndication went off favourite for the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, where he was to be put in his place by Cyrname - no less. Both now find themselves with lots to prove today, the latter going back to Yorkshire to defend that crown.

Vinndication was popular again for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November, where he was moving well in behind Cloth Cap when he came down five from home. Given a break afterwards, he tackled Grade 1 Stayers' contests over hurdles at Cheltenham and Aintree in the spring and ran well, without ever threatening. He is very capable off a break and is the class act in this line-up, something the betting will reflect adequately.

Closest to him on ratings is Benny's King, a course winner in the past and owner of a fine Ascot record, though Dan Skelton's now 10YO does have something to prove at this 3m trip.

REAL STEEL comes with clear risks, given he has essentially failed to complete in 3-4 runs since joining Paul Nicholls. He had shaped with promise over 2m5f (soft) in a Grade 2 here last November after leaving Willie Mullins and while his Chepstow comeback this month left plenty to be desired, the handicapper has eased him another 4lb and he's dangerously well-handicapped if he puts things together. The price should be a fair one, given that recent form.

One More Fleurie remains progressive over fences and would be a danger to all if getting into a nice rhythm towards the head of affairs.

Selection: Real Steel

Next Best: One More Fleurie

3.55 - Stella Artois Novices' Hurdle (1m7½f)

The bumper form exhibited by Peking Rose last season ensures Fergal O'Brien's gelding heads over timber with plenty respect due him. He won first time up at Carlisle before finishing fourth here behind smart Knappers Hill in December and he got very close to that same rival when second in an Aintree Grade 2 in April. Leading claims for Paddy Brennan's mount.

Shallwehaveonemore shaped nicely at Kempton in March in one bumper run for Gary Moore and joins fellow newcomer Kandoo Kid and in being of interest but SUPER SIX is the selection.

Nigel Twiston-Davies' won his first two bumpers last season before finishing fifth in the Champion at Cheltenham in March. He rather flopped at Aintree and while that leaves him with work to do with Peking Rose, he has crucial hurdles form having dead-heated at Perth last month on debut.

He and market rival It's Good To Laugh pulled a dozen lengths clear that afternoon in Scotland and Jennie Candlish's charge - a winner off 90 on the Flat at Chester in September - has since gone on and won easily over hurdles at Hexham.

Selection: Super Six

Next Best: Peking Rose

4.30 - Ascot Racecourse Supports Safer Gambling Conditional Jockeys' Novices' Handicap Hurdle (2m3f)

GO CHIQUE came good over hurdles at Southwell in May over an extended three-miles for trainer Nicky Henderson and that stamina could be a useful aid here. The mare should kick on from that win and, when factoring in the 8lb claim of Ben Ffrench-Davis, she's getting a chunk of weigh from dual 2m4f Aintree winner My Bobby Dazzler. This track will proved a different test to anything Melanie Rowley's charge has faced so far.

Grangeclare Glory returned to win at Newton Abbot this month for David Pipe and is a player again, while Not Sure is open to progress for in-form trainer Kerry Lee. His Exeter hurdling bow in March was promising and he wasn't done any favours setting a sedate pace in front at Ffos Las next time. Better to come from him.

Selection: Go Chique

Next Best: Not Sure

5.05 - Ascot Round Table Open NH Flat Race (1m7½f)

Deal Em High justified odds-on favouritism at Newton Abbot last month to open his account at the second attempt. His rider can offset the penalty he carries for that win but there are a plethora of potentially useful newcomers out of top yards in this bumper and he'll do well to follow up.

The market will be a vital aid in assessing this, with Holetown Hero (Paul Nicholls), Nollyador (Emma Lavelle), Firestream (Anthony Honeyball) and Rex Temple (Harry Fry) all notables but TAKODA is given the nod.

He won a maiden point as he pleased back in April before joining trainer Ralph Smith and there's enough flat-speed in his pedigree to think he can have a good say in this field, with the booking of Tom Scudamore a plus.

Chianti Classico was himself an easy winner in an Irish point-to-point around the same time and, now with Kim Bailey, commands plenty respect on rules bow too.

Selection: Takoda

Next Best: Chianti Classico




V: 1.28.0 All rights reserved. August 2021