2020 Ascot Chase tips – Preview of Saturday’s Ascot Grade One feature
Brian Healy looks over the Saturday Grade One feature race at Ascot and gives his 2020 Ascot Chase tips as he assesses each of the potential runners in the field for the weekend’s highlight.
Only four runners will head to post for Saturday’s Grade One Ascot Chase, but despite the small field of runners – headed by defending champion Cyrname – it should prove to be a decent renewal nonetheless with Jankia, Riders Onthestorm and Traffic Fluide lining up in opposition.
Frodon, Top Notch and Saint Calvados all featured at the five-day stage but now won’t take their chance at Ascot on Saturday which appears to leave Cyrname with a relatively straight forward task. Brian Healy looks at Cyrname’s chances of landing the Ascot Chase for a second successive year as well as assess the chances of his three rivals who each will hope to lower the colours of Paul Nicholls’ star and land the £85,000 first prize.
2020 ASCOT CHASE TIPS
Paul Nicholls’ Cyrname (4/9, William Hill) took this race twelve months ago with a defeat of Waiting Patiently and others, propelling the Nickname gelding into the highest echelons in the process.
A high-class novice chaser, winning twice at Grade Two level his progress seemed to have stalled in his first couple of outings last term where he was readily beaten in Listed and handicap company.
However, following his romp here last January where he took a competitive handicap by twenty lengths having adopted more forceful tactics he hasn’t looked back and he took this race last year before returning from nine months off the track to win the Christy 1965 Chase over course and distance, beating Altior in the process and handing that one his first defeat over obstacles.
He went well for a long way in the King George VI Chase at Kempton but he possibly found three miles stretching him as he was readily beaten by stablemate Clan Des Obeaux although he had five lengths in hand of the third.
He’ll appreciate the drop back to this trip and he sets a very stiff standard for the others to match. Clear on official ratings he should have too many guns for his trio of rivals and he ought to make a successful title defence here.
A winner over fences in France, Nicky Henderson’s Janika (10/1, Bet365) reached a good level over fences last term without managing to win, posting two excellent efforts at Cheltenham behind Siruh Du Lac which included in the Brown Advisory Plate prior to finishing fourth over the Grand National fences in the Topham Chase.
The Saddler Maker made a winning return to action with an impressive defeat of Dolos in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in November; but he’s finished fourth on all three subsequent starts albeit at Grade One and Grade Two level.
He proved no match for Defi Du Seuil here over two miles in the recent Clarence House Chase, beating only one rival home; but he ought to appreciate the return to this longer trip where he could do better. However he has a good bit to find on form with Cyrname and is rated 13lbs below Paul Nicholls’ charge so looks up against it if that one turns out at the top of his game.
RIDERS ONTHE STORM
A useful chaser in Ireland for Tom Taafe, winning at Punchestown last February before falling at Cheltenham in the Close Brothers Chase won by A Plus Tard, the Scorpion gelding has won both his starts for Nigel Twiston-Davies since joining this yard.
An impressive winner over Cepage at Aintree on his debut for the Twiston-Davies stable back in November, Riders Onthe Storm (10/3 Betway) followed up that success by demolishing On The Blind Side over this course and distance in December with an easy seven lengths’ victory in heavy ground.
The seven-year old is a lightly-raced sort who may yet have more to offer over fences and the manner of his last success hinted at even better still to come.
This is a big step up in class he takes in, but he’s clearly a progressive sort and while he has plenty of improving to do if he’s to lower the Cyrname colours from the mast he may well progress enough to emerge as the main danger to Paul Nicholls’ rival.
While he may ultimately not be quite good enough to beat Cyrname if the Nicholls’ runner is at his best, he can give a good account of himself and certainly at the odds he looks to be the one for the forecast.
Talented by fragile as his punctuated career attests, Gary Moore’s Traffic Fluide (40/1, Coral) faces a monster task on his reappearance from more than a year off the track.
The Astarabad gelding hasn’t been seen for 469 days since he won the Grade Three Sodexo Gold Cup back in November 2018 where he beat Art Mauresque by a half-length.
He has shown in his younger days that he is well capable of classy form, finishing third in the 2017 Melling Chase at Aintree behind Fox Norton and then chasing home the admirable Menorah at Sandown in that season’s Oaksey Chase.
Also a Grade Two winner at Cheltenham back in April 2018, beating Art Of Payroll, his trainer has been on record saying the ten-year old is going to need this reappearance; but he looks in any case up against it with 28lbs to find on Cyrname on official ratings.
Connections should enjoy a good day out with him, but it is hard to see him offering any serious resistance to Cyrname and he may just be out for a run prior to a possible tilt at the Grand National.
It is hard to look past CYRNAME (4/9, William Hill) as the most likely winner of this race back at a venue where he boasts an excellent record over the distance.
Last year’s winner faces nothing of the quality he demolished twelve months ago when taking this prize and he meets his three rivals on level weights yet has 13lbs and more in hand on official ratings.
Dropping back from three miles in the King George VI Chase to this more suitable trip ought to make him very hard to beat and a clear round of jumping should see him successfully defend his crown before heading to Cheltenham.