Race Time: 1.45pm Meeting: Ascot Day: Saturday 31st October
Distance: 2m 2f 175yds Full Race Name: Ascot Underwriting Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (Class 3)
Well the Channel 4 team certainly know how to start our day with what could well be a close to impossible to solve handicap with so many unknown quantities declared to run. With a larger percentage of the entries yet to jump a fence in public we are forced to rely on a combination of statistics, hurdle form, the betting, and a lucky pin, though we think we have identified some good value!
How the handicappers worked out a rating for Anatol is beyond me as the Paul Nicholls trained French import hasn’t been seen in anger since March 2014 when he won his second race over hurdles at Toulouse for his old connections. At the risk of upsetting our French cousins, there is a school of thought that horses usually improve in the care of our top handlers, in which case he could be a step ahead of the handicapper and as he seems sure to have been well schooled at home at Ditcheat, he is very much one for the short list. With such a long time off the track and a fairly short price he’s not one we can recommend backing though.
The one we have gone for in this race is Void D’Eau; we love Harry Fry who is on the list of up and coming trainers well worth keeping on the right side of. He’s decided to run Voix D’Eau who at the age of five has more room to improve than most in this field. Two outings over hurdles last year gave them time to work him out after he arrived from France, but this year he has looked far better over fences with a second at Stratford and an easy win at Ffos Las, which if repeated would give him every chance of another success this afternoon and on the TV as well.
Evan Williams sends Padge here and the six year old son of Flemensfirth deserves to be where he’s been placed at joint 3rd favourite in the early betting. Two wins and three places over hurdles followed on from a point to point win and a bumper third, but jumping fences was always thought to be where he would really excel and come in to his own, in which case a rating of 133 may end up looking remarkably generous. Paul Moloney was booked nice and early to ride which is another sign of how much the Williams yard fancies him. However, with a lack of chasing experience compared to the favourite, we were hoping for a bigger price and while he may be worth another look if he drifts out we feel he may be worth a look but 6/1 suggests the bookies are just keeping it tight just in case.
The last we want to mention is Vikekhal who has won his last 2 by good distances and gone up 20lb in the process. He’s looked a different horse this season and is proving versitile with his first win at Fontwell over 3m 1f and the second over 2m 3f! This is over slightly shorter yet but it’s up a class and looks a much tougher race so it may be that he has to settle for a place at best.