The main event at Ascot on Saturday sees Cue Card trying to win a race that he last won back in 2013. He won this Ascot Chase on his way to winning the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival that year. He is a very short price to win and even though he represents no value in this, I do think he is value for the Gold Cup.
8/1 seems way too big for a horse who beat a former Gold Cup winner at Haydock in the Betfair Chase and then seemed to under-perform (but still finish second!) to the horse who is favourite for the race in the King George. He would have been third at worst last year in the Gold Cup and may even have gone on to win it had he not fallen.
65 horses over the age of 10 have tried and failed to win the Gold Cup since 1969, but I would happily take a chance on him to make the frame in next month’s spectacle. This weekend he has a few younger horse taking him on in the Ascot Chase but he will be ridden positively and Taquin Du Seuil should chase him home for forecast backers.
The other one to keep your eye on is Yanworth at Wincanton. He is wearing cheekpieces for the first time on Saturday, and this will be to try to help Barry Geraghty. This horse doesn’t pick up immediately in his races and around the old course at Cheltenham you can’t afford to do that in a Champion Hurdle. Yanworth represents value in a Festival race where there is now no standout horse. I fully expect him to win at Wincanton and enhance his claims at the expense of Sceau Royal.
The racing at Haydock has a Grand National trial four days after the weights come out for the the big race at Aintree. It will be very interesting to see how Vieux Lion Rouge gets on as handicapper Phil Smith highlighted him as a real contender earlier this week. He has to have a big chance at a track where he has won before. Blaklion is a previous RSA Chase winner who has struggled a bit this year, and is lumped with top weight. He has the class for this though and going that little bit further should help him as it has looked hard work for him this season over 3 miles. Gas Line Boy is another who loves the track and course form at Haydock can’t be ignored.
The Rendelsham is a race that has a small but competitive field. Agrapart is the obvious one but the worry is will the ground be soft enough for him giving away weight. The others have all got questions to answer so he gets the tentative nod.
Back at Ascot the Reynoldstown Chase has thrown up a few RSA winners in the past, but there does not seem to be a star in this year’s renewal. Fletchers Flyer is a horse I like as he is a proven stayer having already won at the Punchestown Festival over a marathon trip. He is a sound jumper and is an each-way play. It’s worth keeping your eye on the favourite Arpege d’Alene. This lad is quirky but talented and they will go a gallop here that will suit him.
The handicap chase at 2.25pm also has a small field, but it is full of horses who like to go forward. If Chef D’ouvre can jump these fences well he can take advantage off his low weight. The handicap hurdle at 3.00pm is a trappy contest but it’s worth taking a chance on Ordo Ab Chao. He’s been off the track for 680 days (!) but trainer Alan King can get them fit and this horse could be ridiculously well handicapped on some of his old form.