1:50 Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) 2m 7f 180y
Testing ground is a negative for Does He Know, who was well beaten when tried on heavy ground at Exeter last term, and seems best suited by a sound surface.
Annual Invictus also has a poor run on heavy ground to forgive, that coming at Aintree in early December.
He ran well on form when chasing up Elixir de Nutz (winner since) at Plumpton, but looked reluctant to exert himself until the race was all but over, and it’s hard to trust him now.
Corach Rambler and Doyen Breed have chances, but I think one of the bottom pair will get the run of the race from the front.
J’ai Froid just gets the nod for an in-form Laura Morgan, and his last of five behind Corach Rambler at Cheltenham last time is much better than it seems. He set the pace on good ground, but lacked pace to hold his place down the hill and wasn’t beaten up when his chance had gone.
He was a most progressive hurdler last term, and had to concede 9lb to Corach Rambler there. A winner on this card last year, he can benefit from the return to Ascot and softer ground, and is worth a bet.
Fern Hill was also overlooked in the early betting, and has similar credentials, for all his stamina is unproven.
2:25 Greatbritishstallionshowcase.Co.Uk Swinley Chase (Listed Race) 2m 7f 180y
The Swinley Chase has an open look at first glance, but many of the runners have something to prove, and I’ll be disappointed if the consistent mudlark Fortescue can’t collect some more place-money.
He is effective right-handed as he showed when winning at Perth last year, and he battled away to take a minor share of the spoils in the Peter Marsh at Haydock behind Royale Pagaille on his latest start.
In truth, he could do with an even stiffer test than this, but wind and rain will sap the stamina of all here, and he will be running through beaten rivals in the straight, assuming he hasn’t already passed them all by that stage.
3:00 Dingley’s Promise Handicap Hurdle 2m 3f 58y
He won’t be much of a price, but Good Risk At All looks well named here.
A misunderstanding meant that he wasn’t qualified in time for the Betfair Hurdle, but he promises to be even better suited by this longer trip, as he hinted when finishing strongly to be second to Barrichello at Warwick last time, and that was quite a warm little handicap.
It’s worth remembering that although qualifying for a mark last time, he needed the outing to be able to run in high-value handicap hurdles, and it looked to me that Sam Thomas had left plenty to work on.
He was let down by his jumping on his debut, but has been getting better by the run in that department, and I fancy we will see a much more polished performer now that he has achieved the goal of getting assessed.
It’s not hard to make a case for several others, but the bottom line is that this high-class bumper performer could be some way ahead of his mark, and he’s impossible to oppose on that basis.
3:38 betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1) 2m 5f 8y
Fakir D’Oudairies is the one to beat in the Ascot Chase, but I’m reminded of the advice given by a colleague and fellow punter that ignoring the issues of travel is dangerous, especially in windy weather. Hopefully all travellers will arrive without mishap, but a fraught voyage means a negative impact on wellbeing, and I can look elsewhere with that consideration.
Dashel Drasher is sure to make a bold bid, and ditto Fanion D’Estruval, but the most appealing contender is Saint Calvados, who has twice shaped best in the King George at Kempton, but simply doesn’t stay three miles. He’s a proven mudlark, and while I’d concede that this is probably as far as he would want in the mud, he appears to have near-perfect conditions, and should have every chance if turning up in good health.
Saint Calvados is a proven Grade 1 performer, who split Min and A Plus Tard in the 2020 Ryanair. Few can match that level of form, and he’s not had a fair shake of the stick since.
4:10 Ascot Racecourse Supports The Autism In Racing Handicap Hurdle (Challenger Stayers Final Qualifier) 2m 7f 118y
Bean In Trouble appeals most in a handicap which will see stamina at a premium.
Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding had a subsequent dual winner behind when pushing the progressive In Rem close at Warwick two starts back, and the winner has since defied another rise in the weights.
Bean In Trouble wasn’t far off that level when a staying-on fourth in a deep handicap at Exeter on his latest start, and a strongly run race at three miles will be right up his street, given forecast conditions.
Imphal is respected given his excellent run of form, but whether he wants the ground this deep is not certain, his win at Wincanton last time not requiring him to give everything.
J’ai Froid 2pts win 9/1 Paddy Power/Betfair
Fortescue 1pt e/w 12/1 Bet365
Good Risk At All 2pts win 15/8 general
Saint Calvados 1pt win 9/2
Bean In Trouble 1pt win SP