The Grade 1 action comes from Ascot this weekend and there is not much rain forecast for the area for the rest of the week. With that in mind, I would not be rushing to back Un De Sceaux at ½ with BetVictor for the Clarence House Chase (formerly Victor Chandler Chase) whilst acknowledging that he is by far the most likely winner.
The money has come for the novice Brain Power (8s into 5/1 with BetVictor) who was beaten when coming down two out in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novice Chase at Sandown last month. On soft or heavy ground, Un De Sceaux is hard to oppose but he might be vulnerable on decent ground although this looks a moderate field for a Grade 1 contest.
Plumpton failed to beat the elements yesterday and, at the time of writing, I wonder whether Ayr will be able to race this afternoon given conditions were bordering on unraceable yesterday. If they do get the green light to race dual winning pointer My Old Gold (1.10) can land the 3m Novices’ Hurdle for Nicky Richards and Finaghy Ayr (2.15) can reverse recent form with Lochnell with a 4lbs pull and an additional quarter of a mile to travel.
It might be prudent to concentrate on the other two fixtures, however, and at Hereford Piton Pete must go close in the first division of the Maiden Hurdle, but Sunset Showdown (12.50) has had a two-month break since finishing a beaten favourite in a Chepstow Bumper on his British debut but is taken to leave that form behind. This 2m 4f winning pointer is entitled to come on for that experience and the Rebecca Curtis yard could certainly do with a winner.
Steel Native remains potentially very well handicapped and James Bowen is an eye-catching booking, but his fencing still leaves a bit to be desired and preference is for top-weight The Kings Writ (2.00) who had not been asked a question when coming down at halfway at Bangor when short of room on his chase debut.
The selection was strong in the market (11/4 from 7/2) on that occasion and this dual winning pointer might have more to come. The form of Handsome Sam’s C&D third to Tb Broke Her was given a boost when the latter followed up at Ludlow last week and Sam is 2lbs lower in the weights this afternoon – he looks a big danger.
Born To Size (3.40) cost his present connections £35,000 at Ascot Sales in November having won a Beginners’ Chase for Liam Burke back in October in the colours of the late Alan Potts. That success was gained on decent ground and he wouldn’t want too much rain overnight, but granted the current going description of good to soft I think he will go close for the same Richard Woolacott/Daryl Jacob trainer/jockey combination of The Kings Writ.
In the Bumper Brewin’Upastorm (4.10) makes his rules debut for Olly Murphy having won a point in Ireland before joining Dan Skelton for £250,000 in October and was moved on to Murphy in November. Locker Room Talk has been well entered up in recent weeks for Rebecca Curtis and the booking of James Bowen for this conditional and amateur rider’s event looks significant.
At Kempton, I was disappointed to see Sharp Reminder (6.10) raised 4lbs for his good third at Newcastle on his handicap debut. The selection was held up on that occasion, having been ridden prominently in his maidens. Oisin Murphy takes over for the first time this evening and the yard of James Tate have their team in decent form.
In the valuable 6f Conditions Event I am keen to take on the forecast favourite Corinthia Knight (tissue Evens at BetVictor) as I just wonder if Archie Watson’s course winner truly gets six furlongs. This represents a drop in class for market rival Danzan (6.40) who was beaten less than five lengths when eighth of 12 in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket at the end of September. The selection has to prove he is effective on tonight’s polytrack surface but he gets a narrow vote for a race that gets the winner an automatic run at Lingfield on their Good Friday card.