Saturday’s feature race is the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, the final top level British contest until the Cheltenham Festival in March. Here is all you need to know about the race, along with analysis of this year’s field.
One of the newer Grade 1s in the National Hunt calendar, the Ascot Chase is one of three top tier National Hunt prizes at the royal track.
The race’s inaugural running took place in 1995 and was won by the future Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Martha’s Son. Initially, the distance was over 2m3½f which meant those who competed at the top over the shortest trip of two miles often had a chance of their stamina lasting.
Since 2008, the race distance has increased to 2m5f, at which it remains today. It may have been that extra emphasis on stamina that encouraged Paul Nicholls to declare Kauto Star that same year. He won, of course.
One horse proved that the slight change in trip made minimal effect. The effervescent grey Monet’s Garden was victorious in 2007 and 2010, the latter at the age of 12, making him the oldest winner of the race. Yet, that distance between his two victories was not even the widest of any horse to win the race twice.
Cue Card claimed his first Ascot Chase in 2013, but would have to wait four years, until he was 11-years-old, to win it once again. A year later, he almost became the first horse to grab a hat-trick in the contest, only to be overcome by the younger Waiting Patiently.
Tiutchev and Riverside Theatre are other dual scorers in the race and there is a history of top class horses who have claimed success here. The likes of One Man, Voy Por Ustedes and Silviniaco Conti also wrote their names into the honours list.
The 2022 Field
Last year’s winner Dashel Drasher heads eight runners for the 2022 running and it is a competitive market.
Jeremy Scott’s stable star is as honest a horse as you can get and you can be guaranteed that he will give his all as he seeks to defend his title. He was only narrowly denied giving 6lb to Two For Gold, who reopposes, at Lingfield last time, although was not at his best on his reappearance over course and distance.
Instead, the standard looks set here by FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES and Joseph O’Brien’s seven-year-old is taken to add his second British Grade 1 prize.
His last 12 months have been spent mostly in the shadow of the beastly Allaho, including at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. However, in the absence of him, he bolted up in the Melling Chase at Aintree. There does not appear to be too much difference between that field and this on paper and it looks an astute piece of targeting by connections as he preps for the Festival once again.
Mister Fisher is seen as the main danger. He continued his excellent record of winning second time out for the season at Kempton and the key to him is to continue racing once the cobwebs have been blown off. He also won his third race of the season as a novice hurdler and chaser and while this is harder, his form in winning Kempton’s Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase has been franked, with runner-up Eldorado Allen winning the Denamn Chase last Saturday.
Lostintranslation and Waiting Patiently will have to turn back their respective clocks to feature, but all of Fanion D’Estruval, Saint Calvados and Two For Gold could feature if bringing their best games to the table.