Cheltenham is just around the corner and the big guns will be putting the final touches to their preparations over the next two weekends. You should check out our Cheltenham Gold Cup Stats That Matter piece if you are looking to ramp up the festival fever. The ITV4 team will be at Ascot on Saturday and it looks a cracking card. Check out Dave Stevos’ Ascot Racing tips for all five live ITV4 races below…
Ascot Racing Tips: 1.35 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)
It is a huge relief to have racing back in the UK this weekend after the Equine Flu Crisis. It is all systems go now for the festival and the first live ITV4 race is a superb one. The Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase is run over 3 miles and is for Novices only. A good few horses that have won this went on to taste success at Cheltenham, O’Faolain’s Boy the most recent example. Only five will go to post this year and Top Ville Ben looks rock solid for Phil Kirby and Sean Quinlan.
He has proved to be a different proposition over fences since switching from hurdling. Top Ville Ben has bolted up on his two chase starts so far, both over 3 miles. He is the highest rated horse in the race with a mark of 150 and he’d be giving all these weight in a handicap. He holds an entry for the RSA Chase and is currently priced up at 25/1 for that. Top Ville Ben is 11/4 for today’s contest though, and he can win en route to a crack at the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
ASCOT RACING TIPS: TOP VILLE BEN WIN @ 11/4 NAP
Ascot Racing Tips: 2.10 Swinley Handicap Chase (Listed)
Eight horses will line up at the start for this 24f Listed Handicap Chase. It has attracted a stellar field, including former Gold Cup winner Coneygree. He has to carry 11st 10lbs though and he faces a tough task off top weight. Last year’s winner Regal Encore is back for another bite at the cherry, but his main target is surely the Grand National. At odds of 8/1 Art Mauresque looks an interesting contender for Paul Nicholls.
Lorcan Williams takes off a very useful 5lb and the last time he rode Art Mauresque was a fine 2nd over this C&D. He wasn’t as good on his next two starts, but the return to Ascot gives cause for optimism. Paul Nicholls’ inmate is 2lb higher now off a mark of 150 than for his 2nd here, but he has won off that rating before. He looks to hold solid each way claims and an interest is advised at odds of 8/1.
ASCOT RACING TIPS: ART MAURESQUE E/W @ 8/1 NB
Ascot Racing Tips: 2.45 Denman Chase (Grade 2)
The Grade 2 Denman Chase is run over 24f and four will go to post. After his commanding win in the King George, Clan Des Obeaux is a red hot favourite. He will use this race as a prep run for a tilt at the Holy Grail in March, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is up against a useful performer in Terrefort though and he has festival ambitions of his own. Clan Des Obeaux has to give 3lb to that rival, but he should be well capable of doing so, once he runs to form. This is not a betting heat and a watching brief is advised.
ASCOT RACING TIPS: NO BET
Ascot Racing Tips: 3.20 Betfair Hurdle (Grade 3)
A relatively small field of 14 horses will go to post for the 2 mile Betfair Hurdle. This Grade 3 has a purse of £85k and the winner takes home just under £50k. It is a nice pot and at a big price Nordic Combined could go well for each way players. David Pipe’s 5yo son of Haafhd has been frustrating to follow in maiden and novice hurdles, finishing 2nd on his last three starts.
He has looked a bit wayward at times with his jumping, while he can race lazily too. However, the application of a first time visor could sharpen him up in both departments. If it does, this horse clearly has an engine and he should be suited by a truly run race. Tom Scudamore is at Haydock, so Bryony Frost comes in for the ride. She is no stranger to success on Saturdays and it would be no surprise if she gets a good tune out of Nordic Combined at odds of 20/1. Six places available with William Hill.
ASCOT RACING TIPS: NORDIC COMBINED E/W @ 20/1 6 PLACES
Ascot Racing Tips: 3.55 Ascot Chase (Grade 1)
The final live race of the day on UTV4 is the Grade 1 Ascot Chase. Run over a distance of 21f, this has been won by some stars over the years. Cue Card, Kauto Star and the wonderful grey Monet’s Garden have all triumphed, while Waiting Patiently scored last season. He is one of six horses in the 2019 renewal, and he looks a more than worthy favourite.
Ruth Jefferson’s charge unseated Brian Hughes last time in an incident that he could do nothing about. He had previously won six chases in a row, including this race in 2018. Waiting Patiently was touted as a possible Gold Cup contender, but connections are going for the Ryanair instead. He is short enough at odds of 7/4 for this, but if he runs to form and puts in a clear round he should win.
ASCOT RACING TIPS: WAITING PATIENTLY @ 7/4