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Amlin Chase preview

It looked like being a great weekend of National Hunt racing but cripes it's turned out to be rather lame for Ascot tomorrow. Surely they have two races with a couple of starts in each, but if I wanted to bet head-to-heads, I'd focus on golf. Regular contributor Jon da Silva @creamontop follows up with his moan...

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Amlin 2 miles 3.5 furlongs Chase Grade 2

Grade 2 races in the UK nearly as farcical as Ireland. It does seem the BHA keeps coming up with ways for easy money and schooling for top trainers. Many Grade 2s just detract from Grade 1s like last week's Morgiana or how about the big two in this travelling for the Durkan or the Down Royal race the other week? Captain Chris by his being a righty horse probably should be glad of this, the rest of us not so much. Yes those races are in Ireland but the idea UK and Irish National Hunt racing should not work together is ridiculous. This would be like an independent Scotland.

When I were a lad this was sponsored by Pawn Brokers and was an intermediate chase called the H&T Walker Gold Cup. Declan Murphy deserting Bradbury Star for Deep Sensation and then beating The Star still a low point that England's batsmen managed to get close to last night. (Bad segue award winner?)

Anyway a total pick em three horses?

Captain Chris
currently my least favourite horse in training as I have got it into my head that stablemate Menorah could win the King George and he is in the same ownership as last year's second. Indeed to complete a theme, although like General MacArthur I will return, last year tight track monster Menorah won a Grade 2 at Kempton's Christmas jamboree. The Captain here was narrowly denied by Long Run although what that form is worth is anyone's guess. One wonders same owner trainer is the reason Menorah is not running here which would seem a logical stepping stone to the two mile 5f Grade 2 or dare I suggest the King George. Oh sorry, Captain Chris won this last year has won over two miles and almost won a heavy ground King George and sets a standard here. This could be his ideal conditions. Won this first time up last year and expect him to finish with a white skid mark on his right side from rail hugging. Main negative in a small field is he likes to be held up. 6/4

Al Ferof
Like Captain Chris won a Cheltenham Festival novice race albeit over hurdles. Won the Mack' [Paddy Power] easily last year beating serial disappointment Walkon three wickets in form that has not been franked IMO. Did not have the speed to take on Sprinter Sacre or Cue Card the year before at the Festival and muellered by the great Menorah at Aintree (tight track leathering). He's been off a year and although I actual think that is not a huge issue nonetheless he is the one most likely to run no race. Like with English football absence makes you look a better player and hence Evens favourite. Tried to lead Sprinter Sacre once and it did not end well.

French Opera
A 10 year old who has been a solid 2nd tier wto miler. Well beaten in Grade 2s last year by the likes of Menorah. Can make a case that French Opera has a two miler's chance in a small field could get lucky or dominate. 9/1

Conclusion

So who wins? I can see the promise of al Ferof but Captain Chris beat a future 2 mile champion as a novice in Finian's Rainbow. He goes well over course and distance and is a very similar horse in ratings to Menorah (relevance?). Even without the year off I think Captain Chris was a better novice and has better form even if al Ferof is unexposed to a degree.

Lay Al Ferof or take Stan's 13/8 Captain Chris -> which bet comes down to your view of French Opera's chance in what might be a muddling race. Take the 13/8 can always back French Opera in running or to cover.

Contrary to what you may have read Menorah is not running in this race or sadly it seems the King George.

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