Good Risk At All was a big eye-catcher for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival
There were significant trials for the Cheltenham Festival at Ascot last weekend. Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’Oudairies won the featured Ascot Chase, often an excellent guide to the Ryanair Chase. There were also big market movers for the National Hunt Chase and the Coral Cup. We take a look back at the action and examine the Cheltenham clues on offer.
Fakir D’Oudairies could side-step Ryanair Chase in favour of Aintree
Supporters of Allaho won’t have lost any sleep after the Ascot Chase was won by a familiar rival in Fakir D’Oudairies. The Ryanair favourite beat him by 12 lengths in last year’s race and has left him trailing in similar fashion at Punchestown and Thurles this season. The going was soft at Ascot and only half of the eight-runner Ascot Chase field completed the course.
It was a war of attrition up the home straight with Fakir D’Oudairies eventually wearing down Two For Gold to win by a length and three-quarters. Fanion D’Estruval plugged on in third but Mister Fisher, Lostintranslation, Saint Calvados and Dashel Drasher all struggled badly. Joseph O’Brien’s gelding won by 11 lengths at Aintree last season and it would be no surprise to see him bypass Cheltenham. He is 12-1 with William Hill (NRNB) with Allaho a solid 10-11 favourite.
Fiddlerontheroof has been all but ruled out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup after finishing second in the three-mile handicap. Trainer Colin Tizzard had been considering running the horse at Cheltenham but will now go straight to Aintree for the Grand National. He was racing off a career-high mark of 155 when second to Fortescue at Ascot and is set to carry 10st 12lbs at Liverpool.
Ascot Chase runner-up Two For Gold could also be Aintree-bound after his brave run in defeat. He has just 1lb less to carry than Fiddlerontheroof, although there remain question marks about him over the Grand National fences. He unseated his rider at the Canal Turn in last year’s Topham Trophy.
Good Risk At All romps to Ascot victory for Sam Thomas
The two and a half mile handicap hurdle was turned into a rout by heavily-backed favourite Good Risk At All, trained by Sam Thomas. Charlie Deutsch was able to take a long look over his shoulder before pushing out his mount to win by 9 lengths. Thomas said that the horse was suited by a strong gallop over this trip and his likely Cheltenham target would be the Coral Cup. Bookmakers were impressed and cut him to 10-1 favourite (NRNB).
The Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase is traditionally a trial for the Festival Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. This year’s renewal was won by Does He Know, despite a couple of jumping errors. Corach Rambler unseated his rider with five to jump and Kim Bailey’s seven-year-old drew steadily clear from the third last.
The most likely Cheltenham objective for Does He Know is the National Hunt Chase over three and three-quarter miles. His running style certainly seems to suggest that is his sort of race, particularly if the ground is soft or heavy. He looked a bit one-paced when beaten by Threeunderthrufive over three miles at Cheltenham in November. He earned a quote of 10-1 (NRNB) for the National Hunt Chase and is as short as 5-1 favourite (NRNB) for the more competitive Ultima Handicap Chase.