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Ascot Chase preview

Feature National Hunt races start winding down shortly as everyone wants to put their horses on ice for the Festival, but first we have the Ascot Chase, featuring a few fading stars and some others who never quite made the mark. In his own inimitable style, it's Jon da Silva, @creamontop with his analysis of the jumping jewel of the weekend.

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Betfair Ascot Chase
Grade 1, £150,000, 2m 5f 8y
1535 GMT (0435 AEDT)


The Grade 1 chasing pattern is pretty spot on. The issue is outside of two- and three-milers, no one cares to win races at 2.5 miles so they are often brutally uncompetitive. Unless they have a horse who has been shown up at two miles and three miles, trainers avoid 'em like the plague. Many presume the likes of Cue Card and Vautour can drop distances like Michael Gove, a Chris 'The Thick of It' Grayling policy. That dropping down in trip is grabbing the 'low hanging fruit'. It's much the same way as the kid tries an over headkick in the jaw droppingly sad 'The Ladbrokes Life' ads and the voiceover says 'Who wants to score a tap in anyway?' It is still not a preferred option. After being splattered by Cue Card and co., Silviniaco Conti the three mile king 2012-15 and Dynaste the third best UK horse at three miles behind Conti and Cue do fancy some easier prey but not because it's there but because of who is not there.

Easy Pickings - best alternate phrase to Low Hanging Fruit apparently

Amore Alato 33s

Not won even a novice chase and beaten 32 lengths by Bristol de Mai last time. This field is old and vulnerable but this is an optimistic entry. A horse this good [OR 139] surely there is a better use than hoping for carnage to get prizemoney. Even the four grand for fifth does not make any sense to a still novice qualified -> even if you want to novice chase next year, mmmh National Hunt Novice Classifications are ridiculous.

Flemenstar 7s

Won a Grade 1 this year when the favourite fell and Simply Ned ground to a halt in bottomless ground. Once promising horse who has had issues. Good to see the old boy back and can make a case at 10s on value grounds and ratings. In his prime this might have been his best trip. I think his Ireland form is more 160 than the 165 that could be needed here. In his youth trained by a funny man he was said not to travel well but that was a time ago and in reality was not fast enough on quick ground for Cue Card and especially Sprinter Sacre when shipped terrifying distances across oceans and mountains to Liverpool.

Royal Regatta 7s

A measure of how far the big two have fallen that much like with Faugheen out of the Champion Hurdle, this races attracts its share of relative no-hopers and trees this 152 exposed chaser beaten over course and distance off 149 last is entered here against one of the greats. It's his favourite course and distance but seems priced based on most others being 'Gone at the Game' rather than 'Last Chance Saloon'.

Savello 20s

In his runs beyond two miles he has been beaten at least 14 lengths four times. Honestly if he were not trained by Dan Skelton I would write something like he has two chances, No and None, or every other horse in the race fails to give its running. If Skelton wins with this, I am buying a statue of him and worshipping it.

Triolo D'Alene 6s

Won the same race as Balder Succes, last year's winner, prior. Has won a Hennessy and being a UK horse was felt to be ground held but may have been more held back by stamina. Thought even allowing Wishful Thinking is an old horse with dickie wind and Ptit Zig is not a champion, he put them away very well last time at Kempton. Will he bounce? Who the fuck is Jeremiah McGrath who rides him? Negatives surprisingly Henderson these days. He has brought some old wrecks back but Sprinter dropped 10+ pounds in performance between starts IMO. Triolo not been off that long and National Entry folly. Visually impressed me last time but not sure I'd hang a bet on that alone. You basically have to conclude he improved from prior to the Hennessy and it was not the extra distance that did it to say he can win here.

Ma Filleule 6s

2nd in this last year and 2nd in the Ryanair at the festival ahead of jumping bus Don Cossack. Beat Emile Grey over 2.5 in a Mares Conditions race last time and that one could not get Mullins Plugger Black Hercules off the bit at Warwick. Last April to give you an idea of difference between 2.5 miling and 3 miling got 33 wickets kicked into at Aintree by Silviniaco Conti.

Supernovas [Dying Stars]

Dynaste 4s

In Cue Card and Silviniaco's shadow for much of their reign of terror in UK based Grade 1s at park tracks over three miles. Big Buck's 'Mini Me' prior. Has managed to sneak a Grade 1 Chase by dropping into the Ryanair over this sort of trip. Last time sent back over hurdles was in the Long Walk and predictably tailed off. Started off with a decent second to Cue Card but was dumped even further at Haydock by Cue Card and crucially here Silviniaco Conti. Apparently had a breathing op and gets a tongue tie (has worn before) with blinkers here. Plenty of signs of desperation there. Has cut back before to win a Ryanair and be beaten in one having looked a likely winner.

Silvinaco Conti 3s

Faces only one horse at remotely his best level here and that is Dynaste, a horse he has used as a douche bag several times. From his win at Aintree in the three mile novice Silviniaco won every UK three mile Grade 1 [Ain, Kem, Hay] bar three until Cue Card put him to the sword at Haydock this season; one when he was not even entered as not a Kempton horse according to Nicholls - hahahaha; one when First Lieutenant and Menorah did him in his first Betfair Bowl at Aintree on quick ground; and when Cue and Dynaste left him drooling at Haydock on the outer flat, more galloping course, over a distance that may have been within two furlongs of the advertised distance. Essentially won six Grade 1 races for one defeat on the flat tight tracks only beaten when on a more galloping strip at Haydock. His one visit to Ascot as a chaser he was looking at Alfie Spinner's arse over three miles here with Invictus and Plod's Worth requiring binoculars. He did win at Newbury by seven lengths from The Giant Bolster which either means The Bolster ran his greatest ever race on a flat track or Silvie was below form. He also beat the then 142 rated Wayward Prince at Wetherby but was been handed a duffing there by Menorah and his Cheltenham record includes beaten in what Declan Murphy would call 'The Penalty Kick Gold Cup'. My reading of Conti' is he will find Ascot too galloping, even with its three corners and uphill drag which he may not like either. He is not forlorn but his best form has slipped and if his best form on a galloping track has slipped as much he is very vulnerable here notwithstanding 3s seems large I am keen to take him on.

Conclusion

Royal Regatta and Silvie's price make me want to take them on and that ignoring Black Swans leaves Flemenstar, Henderson's pair and Dynaste and I'll probably play some exotics around them. This may be the last chance saloon for Dynaste but his opening defeat by Cue Card is perfectly acceptable and moves to deal with his breathing, freshness and possibility of better ground counter the doubts of adding Blinkers to the mix. This race seems priced on EW considerations rather than winning chances because it's the dead 8 ante post and backing most shit or bust horse to win makes most sense.

Thus Ockham's Razor fewest assumptions are best Flemenstar has shown the best form this year, is 10s and over what was his best trip. Rain is forecast and whilst not a negative for other big players it should not inconvenience Flemenstar either.

Flemenstar 7/1
R/F with Dynaste

1) Flemenstar 2) Dynaste 3) Triolo 4) Ma Filluele

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