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'Conditions look absolutely perfect' – Ascot Chase preview, plus three to follow

18 Feb 2023

Saturday’s Grade 1 action comes courtesy of the Ascot Chase, which see’s Nicky Henderson’s superstar chaser Shishkin bid for redemption against five fascinating rivals.

Since edging out Energumene in the Clarence House here last season, Shishkin has looked a shadow of his former self, and was well-beaten behind Edwardstone in December’s Tingle Creek Chase. As he did in last season’s Champion Chase, he struggled to go the pace from very early on at Sandown, so it could be that he’s much more at home now over this longer distance.

A return to his very best form would certainly make him the one to beat, but he’s an impossible betting proposition currently, so a watching brief is advised until he proves the fire still burns.

It feels as if Fakir D’oudairies has been around forever, but Joseph O’Brien’s multiple Grade 1 winner is still only eight. He is certainly the most solid option here, but he was fortuitous winner at Thurles last time when Haut En Couleurs came down at the last when seemingly having the race at his mercy.

Paul Nicholls has won this race in the past with the likes of Kauto Star and Silviniaco Conti, and his improving eight-year-old Pic D’orhy could be ready to add his name to that illustrious roll of honour.

He put up by far a career-best effort when pulling well clear at Kempton last time, and although this contest clearly demands more, conditions look absolutely perfect for Pic D’orhy, and it would be no surprise were he to step forward once again.



Three to follow


14:25 Ascot – Revels Hill


The colours of the Noel Fehily Racing Club have regularly found their way into the winner’s enclosure of late, and their progressive chaser Revels Hill could give them another big-race win this Saturday.

Harry Fry’s eight-year-old showed some ability over hurdles, but he took his form to a new level over fences when winning consecutive races at Taunton this time last year.

Like many in the race, he struggled to properly get competitive behind Quick Wave in the London National at Sandown on Tingle Creek day, but having been freshened up and dropped 1lb by the handicapper, he could be ready strike, particularly if the first-time cheekpieces have a positive effect.

15:18 Haydock – Hardy Bloke


Although still a maiden after 12 starts, the pick of Hardy Bloke’s form gives him an outstanding chance off bottom-weight in this contest.

He was last seen finishing third in an ultra-competitive handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival from out of the weights, so in this easier contest, he could be up to finally getting off the mark at the 13th time of asking.

His shrewd connections would presumably like to get him in the Pertemps final at Cheltenham next month, but off a mark of 121, he’s going to have to win this with some authority to get a run at the festival. The fact Emmet Mullins is bringing him over here looks a big indication of their intentions, and it would be a surprise were he to not go extremely close this weekend.

17:00 Haydock – Famous Clermont


In a field of mostly regressive horses, it could pay to side with the improving eight-year-old Famous Clermont. Chris Barber’s gelding has been in unstoppable form in the point-to-point sphere, and he translated that form to the racecourse when winning a Hunter Chase at Wincanton earlier this month. 

Despite some less than fluent jumping, Famous Clermont came there travelling smoothly to record a comfortable success, and with the assistance of the experienced Will Biddick in the saddle once again, he should be able to bring up the four-timer.

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