3-00 LES AMBASSADEURS CASINO HANDICAP HURDLE – 2 M 3 F 58 YDS
Montdragon could well be the answer here given that he is proven in the bog-like conditions. He is a son of the mud-loving Turtle Bowl and he has already proven to be effective at this sort of trip. He is undefeated so far this season and with Jonjo O’Neill starting to hit a bit of form with his runners of late, it is difficult to see him not finishing in the frame.
Sirop De Menthe is only as big a price as she comes from an ‘unfashionable’ yard. If he were trained by Nicholls or Henderson, he would be half the price here. Like the selection he is proven with plenty of give in the ground and will be staying on when the others have cried enough. Pull The Chord lost all chance when blundering his hurdles last time out. He will need to raise his game once again in order to get involved in this better race. Different Gravey and Debdebdeb might need better ground whilst Cotillion stays a bit further than this and will relish the conditions. He may well prove to be the biggest threat to the selection.
Montdragon is at least proven in this grade and is still only lightly raced. It is impossible to rule out further improvement and he is taken to progress yet again.
3-15 PERTEMPS NETWORK HANDICAP HURDLE – 2 M 6 F 177 YDS
Isaacstown Lad is the only course and distance winner in this field and he ought to enjoy these stamina sapping conditions under the guidance of Brian Harding. He has won four of his last five completed starts and finished placed in the other. Nicky Richards has his runners in fine form and this combination ought to go close once again.
Taj Badalandabad represents David Pipe and he is bidding to win this race for the third consecutive year following the successes of both Bygones Sovereign and Top Wood. The six year old returned to somewhere near his best when winning at Huntingdon a few weeks ago and takes a step back in trip this afternoon. With stamina assured he has to rate highly amongst the chief dangers. Box Office and Woodford Island are only five year olds and whilst the latter won last time, he will need to improve again. The former is still a maiden and whilst he has acquitted himself well in races like this before, it is disappointing that he has as yet to still win a race.
Isaacstown Lad has seen all of this before and the task ahead will not be as daunting for him as it will his rivals. It is unlikely that we have as yet seen the best of him and it wouldn’t be the biggest of surprises if he were to win again.
3-35 BETFAIR ASCOT CHASE – 2 M 5 F 8YDS
Silviniaco Conti was a class above these rivals not so long ago and he can confirm that this afternoon. The multiple King George and Betfred Bowl winner pulled up at Kempton last time but the yard was out of form and a line is best drawn under that effort. Paul Nicholls has enjoyed somewhat of a mini resurgence in the last couple of weeks and it would be of little surprise to see his ten year old react in a positive way to the first time blinkers.
Dynaste has finished behind the selection in five out of six races. This trip may see him get a bit closer but he has tended to have more bad days than good recently. The biggest dangers may be lurking further down the racecard and they are both trained by Nicky Henderson at Seven Barrows. Triolo D’Alene has won on soft ground and has relatively few miles on the clock. If conditions were to dry out, he would pose the biggest danger. Ma Filleule has won over multiple distances of up to three miles. Her confidence will have been boosted with a win at Doncaster last time and she gets a useful seven pounds from her male counterparts this afternoon. With her heading off to the paddocks at the end of the season, she may have one last hoorah left in her.
Silviniaco Conti has only raced here once before and it was a few seasons ago. He clearly handled the track well as he pulled some seven lengths clear that day. If back to anywhere near what he is truly capable of, he ought to take some stopping.
SATURDAY 3-00 ASCOT MONTDRAGON
SATURDAY 3-15 HAYDOCK ISAACSTOWN LAD
SATURDAY 3-35 ASCOT SILVINIACO CONTI