Trainers are creatures of habit, targeting the same races with the same horses time and time again. This weekend at Ascot, three previous winners of races live on ITV return to the scene of their previous glories.
Magic Of Light
Jessie Harrington has enjoyed plenty of success in the UK with her MAGIC OF LIGHT. The mare first raced on these shores at Newbury in December 2018, where she bolted up in a Mares’ Listed Chase. She followed that victory with a facile win in this Warfield Mares’ Hurdle for which she is second favourite this year.
Last season ended with a huge performance in the Grand National, finishing second to Tiger Roll at 66/1. She faced another big task on her reappearance this year, finishing a creditable third to Bacardys and Apple’s Jade in her native Ireland. Returning to Newbury last month, she was clear in front when the second fell, leaving her to scoot home to record a wide margin victory.
All looks set for another big run from the nine-year-old as she returns to Ascot. Her biggest rival appears to be Papagana, who finished third in the Marsh Hurdle at the Berkshire course last time. Oliver Sherwood’s charge was flattered by her proximity to the winner there though, and it was a very weak edition of the race. As a result, it’s hard to ignore the claims of Jessie Harrington’s mare.
A Grade Three handicap hurdle over two-miles-three went the way of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ BALLYMOY last year. Previously an easy winner at Haydock, he stayed on strongly in an impressive weight carrying performance.
Things didn’t entirely go to plan over hurdles subsequently, midfield over three-miles at Sandown and last in a Grade Two. The trip and level of competition are valid excuses for those efforts though, and he’s done little wrong in three starts over fences this year.
He’s been sent off favourite for all three chasing starts and has unfortunately bumped into promising rivals each time. He was just three-lengths behind a subsequent Grade One runner-up on chase debut before only finding the now 153 rated Windsor Avenue too good. Again he was a clear second to a subsequent winner at Bangor last time out.
His failure to score in five runs since has seen his mark slip to a dangerous level. He’s now just two pounds higher than when scoring last year. Additionally, the presence of Thomas Darby means he doesn’t have to cart 11-12 round this time. An each way price makes him of definite interest on his first run back at Ascot since that victory.
Un De Sceaux
The legendary UN DE SCEAUX enjoys racing in the UK, only once out of the first two in twelve here. Willie Mullins’ veteran has won all three starts in this race. A five-length win in 2016 was followed by victory by the same margin in the rearranged 2017 edition at Cheltenham. A return to Ascot proved well suited in 2018, where he put seven-lengths between himself and the field.
Having been frightened away by Altior last year, he makes a welcome return to the Clarence House. He faces a similarly impressive rival today in Defi Du Seuil, whom he was behind in the Tingle Creek.
Philip Hobbs’ stable star is improving at a rapid rate, and could well take some beating. There are some reasons that could make it worth backing the veteran though. That rival had the benefit of race fitness last time, the heavier ground is in his favour, and where he is unbeaten in two starts at Ascot, Defi finished fourth of fifth on his sole run here.
Whether Un De Sceaux has what it takes to overturn the form with the youngster remains to be seen. He’s virtually guaranteed to run his race though and could take advantage of an under-performing favourite.