The Ascot Chase is one of the last Grade 1 contests before the Cheltenham Festival and has been won by some serious animals over the years, the honor roll includes Cue Card twice, Silviniaco Conti, Riverside Theatre and more. Last year saw Cue Card claim his second win in the race for Colin Tizzard and Paddy Brennan with Shantou Flyer fifteen lengths back in second. There are plenty of important trends which can help find the winner, keep reading to find out what they are and check out our antepost preview here.
There are no eight year olds in this year’s renewal of the Ascot Chase but the rest of the trends are best matched by Waiting Patiently, who is rated 164 and was last seen winning at Kempton just over a month ago and is a general 11/4 joint second favourite. Top Notch and Coney Island have similar profiles but haven’t had as recent a run while Cue Card went against most trends to win this last year at the ripe old age of 11.
This looks a real cracker of a contest compared to a disappointing turnout last year and there are plenty in here with real chances. Top Notch (2/1), trained by Nicky Henderson, looks the best place to start as he sits at the top of the antepost betting and has done for a while. He was an impressive winner of the 1965 Chase at this track in November with subsequent King George second Double Shuffle eight lengths back in second and continued his excellent season with a facile victory over stablemate Josses Hill in the Peterborough Chase next time. He was a useful hurdler who has only got better over fences despite his diminutive frame and he should make a bold bid to record his second Grade 1 over the larger obstacles here.
Eddie Harty has made no secret of the regard he holds Coney Island (3/1) in and he is as short as 8/1 in places for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup despite having won just once this season in a three runner race. He was very impressive when winning the Grade 1 Drinmore last year and ran Our Duke to within a length later on in the season, he quickened impressively to pick up Adrien Du Pont on his seasonal reappearance despite noticeable market weakness and although that form is nothing to shout about he did it in the style of a proper horse. He jumped well when thrown into Grade 1 company last year and a strong pace should pose no problems here, he is rated 163 after just four chase starts which puts him right in the mix here and there should be plenty more to come from this exciting young chaser who will want to put in a good performance here before possibly heading to the Gold Cup or Ryanair at the festival.
The death of Malcolm Jefferson was a big blow to the whole racing world and no one would begrudge his wife Ruth a winner with the exciting Waiting Patiently (11/4). He is unbeaten over fences after five starts and was raised to 164 by the handicapper after demolishing a decent field in a listed chase at Kempton last time out, he jumps soundly and always seems to be travelling within himself no matter the pace which stands him in good stead for a contest of this nature, the ground will likely have some cut which is perfect for him and he is another very credible contender in an extremely hot race.
Paul Nicholls lacks a couple real star performers in his yard but could have a real Grade 1 horse with the fast improving Frodon (8/1) who was an ultra impressive winner of a Cheltenham handicap last time which prompted the handicapper to raise him to a mark of 164. He is slightly more exposed than a few of these and was well behind Top Notch earlier in the season at this track but is still young and seems to improve with each run, he has a lively each way chance. Cue Card (9/1) was brilliant when winning this last year but faced nothing like the quality of this year’s field that day and he isn’t getting any younger, Speredek (25/1) ran a nice race in the Clarence House but this is altogether harder and Traffic Fluide (50/1) looks outclassed.