Centrepiece on the Ascot card is the Kentbray Swinley Chase at 2.25, a handicap over three testing miles of Berkshire turf and, considering there’s a first prize of over £25 grand on offer, it’s disappointing that only seven horses are pitching up.
Five of the seven could be described as the ‘usual suspects’, as they appear to run in every race like this for season after season, but the two to concentrate on are the two novices, Go Conquer and Chef D’Oeuvre.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these two ‘up-and-comers’ dominate the betting at 7-2 each of two and it wouldn’t be a surprise either if they fought out the finish.
Having said that, there are strong arguments for supporting the Warren Greatrex trained Chef D’Oeuvre, which, incidentally, despite the headline, is not a Cook who prepares starters, but French for ‘Masterpiece’.
Running off 130, Chef is still 4lbs lower than its hurdle mark, whereas Go is a full 10bs higher. The handicapper has taken a view of the 30 length victory in a Novice Chase at Hereford, when just about everything stopped in the heavy ground, by not raising its rating by even a single pound, but considering the runner-up has a rating of 125, this could be a generous view.
With pretty soft ground the order of the day, if the jumping holds up, this relentless galloper could get them all at it again and come home in glorious isolation. Get on.
Over at Haydock, the main event is the Betfred Grand National Trial, run over three and a half miles, for a prize of £42,713.
Favourite in all books is the NT-D trained Blaklion, but as I hate typing errors, at 4-1 we will apply the Spanish Archer. (“What’s ‘e on abart?’ ‘He thinks there should be a ‘c’ in it’)
Seriously, hard to see it winning off a mark of 152, even if it does last home, which I doubt.
One horse who will stay the trip and is attractively rated is the David Pipe runner Vieux Lion Rouge, last seen in action winning the Becher Chase back in December, from Highland Lodge and The Last Samurai. Believe it, that is serious form and although the stable has been quiet by their standards recently, they had a welcome winner with Rathlin Rose in the Grand Military jobby at Sandown so the staying chase division is still healthy. Only raised 4lbs for the Aintree victory, at 7-1 an each way investment is strongly advised.
All down to the Old Red Lion for some of the Chef’s Hors D’Oeuvres afterwards.