Race Time: 2.25pm Meeting: Ascot Day: Saturday 20th February 2016 Full Race Name: Appletiser 50 Year Celebration Chase (A Limited Handicap) (Listed Race) Class One
A disappointing turn out at the overnight stage from what looked like one of the better races of the day with just the five runners left to discuss despite the generous prize fund, and who ever finishes stone cold last will still pick up £1,206!
We have always liked the David Pipe trained Vieux Lion Rouge who looks a chaser of some potential and has already won three of his four chases and caught our eye every time. This trip is not an issue and neither is the going (whatever it is), but he will need to brush up on his jumping after unseating over further last time out at Cheltenham but stepped back in distance today, this may well be his chance to prove that he deserves his place against the better staying chasers from now on and we will be backing him accordingly.
Top of the weights (and thus officially the best horse in the race) we have the Philip Hobbs trained Sausalito Sunrise, an eight year old son of Gold Well who as a win a second and a pulled up to his name already this season. After failing to complete at Chepstow he was off Upswing over close to three and a half miles at Cheltenham when staying on strongly and may find this trip on the short side, as evidenced when a one paced second to Gold Cup outsider O’Faolains Boy over this trip at Newbury last time out.
We are, as you may have noticed, pretty big fans of Nigel Twiston-Davies who is a character and a half in a game that is losing some of its personalities, and he has an interesting contender in Bally Beaufort, the winner of his first two races this season at Aintree but not so impressive since. Sixth of seven to Tea For Two at Kempton beaten fifty-five lengths at the line when tailed off, he was then pulled up behind Black Hercules and seems to have lost his way a bit and he will need to get back to some semblance of his best form before we back him again.
With the Jonjo O’Neill yard looking to get back to top form after a frankly disappointing season so far, Spookdooky is next on the list and has won and placed already this season, which has seen an eight pound rise in the weights to a mark of 142. His chase mark is already way higher than anything he ever achieved over hurdles despite two wins and three places, and with just the three races over fences he could have more to offer, though his yard have only had one winner from fifteen runners in the last fortnight which has to be a major concern.
Lastly (literally, with just the five runners), Venetia Williams will have been delighted to see the top weights abdicate which lets Waldorf Salad in here with a proper racing weight. Still a novice, he has been in great form all season with two wins and a second in his last three races, efforts that have seen him go up a massive twenty pounds in total, which could be enough to stop him here. Last time out he was a running on second over three furlongs shorter at Cheltenham behind King’s Odyssey which is solid enough form, but the extra five pounds today won’t help even if ten stone six is a relative featherweight in these conditions.