First Flow has had something of a stop-start career but put up a very promising chase debut at Uttoxeter earlier this month on his return from an absence. He was beaten only by the rejuvenated 2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Summerville Boy and may have even come out on top had he not looked ill at ease going left-handed.
He showed that the engine is still intact, though, and looks sure to improve on that effort, with the longer trip and switch to a right-handed course in his favour.
Fred showed promise in France and made an encouraging start for Nicky Henderson’s yard when third in a maiden hurdle at Cheltenham last month. He looked unsuited by the slowly-run nature of the race and is very much the type to improve now stepped up in trip.
Stablemate Igor might have won at Newton Abbot had he not lost all chance when stumbling on landing at the last, and he could be the biggest danger.
Master Debonair reached a high level in bumpers, winning a listed event at Cheltenham last year that worked out very well, and he showed enough promise on his hurdles debut last month to suggest that he has a promising future. He failed to settle fully on his return at Cheltenham but travelled powerfully, leading on the bridle two out.
He was unable to go with the winner after the last but ought to improve for the outing, and that form sets the standard. Tamaroc du Mathan and Cascova represent Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson respectively and are a threat.
Sky Pirate showed plenty of promise last season, most notably in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, where he travelled powerfully but shaped like he would be better with the emphasis being placed less on stamina. He again gave the impression he is a well-handicapped horse at Wetherby on his return, where he travelled strongly and held every chance before falling heavily four out.
He remains open to improvement and is taken to make amends here off a lenient mark.
Orchardstown Cross defied another significant rise in the weights at Exeter to resume where he had left off and complete his hat-trick. He is a lightly raced sort who has been much improved since joining Jeremy Scott’s yard and remains very much one to keep on the right side. He has yet to reach his limit as a chaser.
Cloth Cap is also one to be positive about and he could give a good account if taking a big step forward from his reappearance run.
It hasn’t taken long for Red Force One to replicate the useful level he reached on the Flat over hurdles. The four-year-old is in good heart and followed up his maiden hurdle victory with a close second over course and distance recently.
He came home well on that occasion, only just failing to catch the idling winner, and the form was given a boost when Gumball finished runner-up in the Greatwood. He is likely to go well.
- Ascot 13:00 – FIRST FLOW
- Ascot 13:30 – FRED
- Ascot 14:05 – MASTER DEBONAIR
- Ascot 14:40 – SKY PIRATE
- Ascot 15:15 – ORCHARDSTOWN CROSS
- Ascot 15:45 – RED FORCE ONE