3.35pm Ascot Tips & Betting Preview 21/01/2017

An interesting and highly competitive handicap chase to end the ITV racing, and with winners at prices up to 25/1 and not one winning favourite in the last eight renewals it is clearly a tricky one to solve.  As we all know, certain trainers like to target certain races and the fact that ex-jockey Richard Rowe has won this twice in the last five years, both times with Tatenen, suggest he knows exactly the type needed to take home the considerable first prize. This season he is relying on Dark Flame, a very lightly raced eight-year-old who has only had the two starts over fences so far, both this season. He does have plenty of experience in point-to-points with six starts for one victory and has looked pretty decent over the larger obstacles so far with a win at Sandown in a novice event, and a six and a quarter length third to Poker School in a decent handicap here at Ascot over two furlongs shorter. Left on the same rating this afternoon and with Andrew Glassonbury keeping the ride, he may well appreciate the step up in trip and could run in to a place at a working person’s price though his supporters would be happier if the yard were in among the winners.

Jamie Moore is a more than capable jockey and does well when teaming up with Kerry Lee with a 22% strike rate last season and a level stakes profit of over 25 points  which makes impressive reading. They team up again here with Kylemore Lough who has already won five races over fences, four of them with Jamie in the saddle, and three of them over this sort of trip. So far this season he has finished a head second to Royal Regatta over this course and distance and a very solid two and three quarter length fifth to Frodon in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup giving the winner a stone. If he remains in that sort of form he may well run a huge race here with his yard coming back to their best in recent weeks and he looks the most sensible bet in an interesting race.

Venetia Williams took this race in 2016 with Dare Me and has decided to rely on Cold March this season as she looks to double up. Blinkers looked to make a difference last time out at Musselburgh when he saw off Upsilon Bleu by two and a half lengths, and although he has been put up an extra five pounds this afternoon, he was running on strongly suggesting the extra furlong here will be of some benefit.

Irish Saint comes next on the short list for the Paul Nichols yard if only because he represents the most powerful yard in the Country. He hasn’t won for close to a year now after scoring at Kempton in February 2016 but has been dropped two pounds since finishing sixth to Regal Encore over three miles here at Ascot. Interestingly his three wins over fences so far have been over two miles at Sandown, two and a half miles plus at Kempton, and more importantly over this course and distance in December 2014, and it may well be that a return to this sort of trip is just what he needs to get back to his better efforts. The stable remain in better form than in recent weeks with three winners from nineteen runners in the last fortnight (16%), and he seems sure to put up a bold effort off this weight.

Finally, the already mentioned Shantou Flyer could also improve again after winning on his latest start at Cheltenham when beating the very useful Village Vic by three lengths. He has been put up seven pounds for that and is now closely weighted with Tenor Nivernais and may find his new rating on the high side as confirmed by trainer Rebecca Curtis who said “I thought 149 was a high enough mark for Shantou Flyer and we were a bit worried about the ground but he´s handled everything well” after his win which hardly fills anyone with confidence that he can win off his new mark this afternoon.

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