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2019 Ascot Chase tips - Patience can be rewarded by siding with Jefferson's 13/8 chance

Brian Healy 14 Feb 2019
Waiting Patiently can win a second Ascot Chase.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by- runner look ahead to the potential big-race field for Saturday's Grade One feature race at Ascot, the Ascot Chase.

The feature race of Saturday’s horse racing action comes from Ascot where the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase takes centre-stage on a top-quality racecard from the Berkshire track.

With the equine influenza drama now hopefully in the past, it should be all systems go ahead of the Cheltenham Festival next month, and this 2m 5f contest could have some bearing on several of the big race markets at the greatest show on turf.

Getting underway at 3.35pm as the fifth race of the afternoon, the contest boasts a first prize in excess of £80,000 to the winner and a potential field of nine runners could face the tapes.

Paul Nicholls has won this prestigious Grade One three times, most recently with Silviniaco Conti back in 2016, and the Ditcheat handler could boast another strong entry as he bids to win a fourth renewal.

Cyrname (5/2, BetVictor) showed some very promising novice form last campaign, winning three times which included a pair of Grade Two contests at Kempton prior to locking horns with Finian’s Oscar in the Grade One Manifesto Novices’ Chase where he wasn’t disgraced in finishing fourth to Colin Tizzard’s ill-fated star.

The Nickname gelding looked in need of the run behind Mister Whitaker when making his reappearance at Carlisle in November, beaten just over four lengths into third; but he was a shade disappointing next time here when only seventh to Caid du Lin.

That run was over a trip arguably shorter than ideal, and he bounced back to winning form in impressive fashion when turned out over course and distance last month to run out an easy winner over Doitforthevillage.

A change of tactics seemed to work the oracle, and having taken up the running early in the race he made every post a winning one as he galloped and jumped his rivals into submission. His victims that day included subsequent winner Happy Diva, and the progressive seven-year old could have more to offer.

This is tougher stepping into Grade One company straight out of a handicap, but having been hit with a monster 15lbs rise up the ratings following that success, he is rated only 3lbs below stablemate Politologue and he is entitled to take his chance in stronger company.

The suspicion is though he’ll need to find a jolt of improvement if he is to follow up at this level, and he’s unlikely to be able to boss this field the way he did last time.

Cyrname was an impressive winner last time.

Politologue (5/2, BetVictor) comes into the race following a creditable fourth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton were he appeared stretched by the three miles behind Clan Des Obeaux, and the Poliglote gelding could be better served by a return to this more suitable trip.

The classy performer won four of his six starts last term, continuing the promise he had shown as a novice with wins in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and the Melling Chase at Aintree on his final start of the campaign among his haul of successes.

The bold-jumping grey recorded a gutsy victory over Charbel (10/1, BetVictor) on his reappearance here in the Christy 1965 Chase where he gave that rival 6lbs and scoring by a half-length. He was also conceding race-fitness to Kim Bailey’s charge who had had the benefit of prior runs under his belt, so he ought to confirm that form with the Iffraaj gelding.

Charbel has looked a rejuvenated sort over fences this campaign, having lost his confidence and direction over the larger obstacles following his fall behind Altior in the Arkle Chase a couple of seasons back, and he came a cropper again back there in the Champion Chase last campaign when falling once more.

Having posted a disappointing effort on his return at Perth, he went on to see off subsequent BetVictor Gold Cup herp Baron Alco at Chepstow prior to that near-miss behind Politologue here in November. 

He quickly got back on track when successful in the Peterborough Chase, but he had no answer to another potential rival on Saturday in Top Notch, finishing five lengths adrift of Nicky Henderson’s charge at Kempton in the Listed Casino Chase.

He would appear then to have a fair bit to do if he’s to come out on top in this latest run. 

Meanwhile, last year’s winner WAITING PATIENTLY (13/8, BetVictor) can bounce back from his King George VI Chase mishap to quickly regain winning ways and successfully defend his crown.

Ruth Jefferson’s star was unbeaten over fences prior to contesting at Kempton where he was brought down when Bristol De Mai fell in front of him, and he had no chance to avoid crashing out of the race.

The Flemensfirth gelding had shown himself to be potentially top class when winning all three races in his novice campaign which included a ready success over Politologue at Haydock, and he returned to action the following season to win all three races which included a defeat of Art Mauresque at Kempton prior to galloping all over Cue Card and others to claim this prize twelve months ago.

His Kempton run was his first of the season, and his first crack at three miles; and it is debatable what might have happened had he avoided the trouble which led to his exit from the race. A strong-traveller and an excellent jumper, he comes into this race fresh which is no concern given he had won on both seasonal reappearances, and with his favoured soft ground he has plenty in his favour.

This renewal however has the potential to be a stronger one than the one he claimed last year, and it remains to be seen if his unfortunate exit at Kempton has left a mark. If he turns out here at his best however, then he rates the one to beat.

Ruth Jefferson's Waiting Patiently can win a second Ascot Chase.

Aso (11/1, BetVictor) arrives on a hat-trick of successes, having struck already this season at Newbury and Cheltenham, latterly beating Happy Diva to win a Grade Three contest on New Years’ Day.

Venetia Williams’ charge had performed with credit in the 2016/17 campaign, winning at Chepstow and running a very creditable third to Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase, as well as finishing fourth to Tea For Two in the Aintree Bowl.

The Goldneyev gelding however only managed one appearance last term, finishing fifth back at Aintree in the Old Roan Chase prior to being off the track for almost 400 days. He showed no ill effects however following his absence, beating Touch Kick on his return at Newbury and then outgunning Kerry Lee’s star at Cheltenham to score by two lengths.

He is entitled to respect on the back of those successes, but there is a strong suspicion that he’ll need to find more to trouble this stronger field.

Classy Fox Norton (5/1, BetVictor) made a hugely encouraging return to action following more than one year off the track when finishing runner-up to Altior here in the Clarence House Chase in January.

The Lando gelding had shown himself to be a top-class performer over fences when progressing well from his novice campaign - where he twice finished third to Douvan - to win four of six outings during the 2016/17 season.

Those wins included the Shloer Chase and the Melling Chase, and inbetween he chased home Altior in the Game Spirit Chase as well as getting to within a head of the ill-fated Special Tiara in the 2017 Champion Chase.

Having rounded off that campaign with a Punchestown success over Un De Sceaux, Colin Tizzard’s charge won a second Shloer Chase before just coming off worse in a battle with Politologue in the Tingle Creek Chase; but he was pulled up when tried over three miles at Kempton in last season’s King George VI Chase.

That outing came at a cost, and the Lando gelding suffered spinal and leg injuries which kept him off the track for more than one year prior to his return here last month; while he never seriously threatened to give Altior anything to worry about, he showed enough to suggest that he retains most of his ability, and likely to build on his reappearance he is dangerous to discount if arriving at Ascot on Saturday somewhere near his best.

Fox Norton made a promising reappearance in the Clarence House Chase behind Altior and can build on that run.


Despite the small field, this year’s renewal could well be a cracker, with the likes of Politologue and Charbel reopposing from their Christy 1965 Chase here earlier in the season, while proven Grade One winner Fox Norton could also turn out along with impressive last-time scorer Cyrname and hat-trick seeking Aso who has been rejuvenated this campaign.

However, WAITING PATIENTLY (13/8, BetVictor) was impressive when putting Cue Card and others to the sword in this race twelve months ago, and Ruth Jefferson’s charge can repeat the dose and quickly resume winning ways.

Unbeaten over fences prior to being unfortunately brought down by the fall of Bristol De Mai in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, the Flemensfirth gelding will relish these underfoot conditions and the race ought to be run to suit with a likely strong pace guaranteed.

A strong traveller, his jumping is sound and he won easier than suggested in the race twelve months ago having cruised up and taking up the running jumping the last fence. He didn’t appear to do a lot in front, but he was always in command and there is likely plenty more to come.

He has gone well fresh in the past and trip and ground are no issue; and with course-winning form from his win in the race last year he ought to prove a tough nut to crack if none the worse for his Kempton mishap.

Fox Norton meanwhile caught the eye on his return from injury at Ascot behind Altior in the recent Clarence House Chase, and it would be no surprise to see Colin Tizzard’s charge step up markedly on that performance. He looks a decent each-way shout.


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2019 Ascot Chase tips - Patience can be rewarded by siding with Jefferson's 13/8 chance

Brian Healy takes a runner-by- runner look ahead to the potential big-race field for Saturday's Grade One feature race at Ascot, the Ascot Chase.

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