For the first time this week we have a full racing programme. Whilst the ground will be testing at all three meetings, a relatively dry day is expected. Two feature races for us today and I looking beyond the favourite.
3.00 Ascot Clarence House Chase (Grade 1)
Un De Sceaux looked the most likely winner until falling two out on latest start at Leopardstown last month. That was his seasonal debut after festival victories at both Cheltenham and Punchestown.
He has yet to reach his full potential and is given the utmost respect. A record of thirteen wins from fifteen career races makes impressive reading for the Mullins 8yo.
However he makes no appeal at long odds-on.
He comes up against the 2014 Champion Chaser and winner of this race in Sire de Grugy, who looks the value option after rediscovering his form this season. Conditions will be ideal and he has the beating of the other three runners.
I would have the pair together in the market at around the 11/8 mark.
3.15 Haydock Peter Marsh Chase (Grade 2)
In testing conditions, the 3 miles around a very heavy Haydock will be a test of stamina.
No doubting that Reve De Sivola is the best handicapped horse here.
However to my eye he never really took to chasing and looks a much happier horse over hurdles. A decent round of jumping would make him difficult to beat, but I have my doubts. I wouldn’t want to be taking the current 7/2 with such uncertainty.
There are cases to be made for his rivals. Cloudy Two runs off the same low weight as the favourite having finished third to Seventh Sky in the Tommy Whittle here in December.
Virak is in form and handles conditions. Although exposed in the handicap, he looks sure to go well with the rider claiming 7lb. I have Virak as 11/2 co-fav on my tissue.