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Ascot stages the final Grade 1 before next month’s Cheltenham Festival – but who do Paddy’s pundits fancy to come out on top?
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Dashel Drasher is back to defend his Ascot Chase crown but faces seven rivals including Irish challenger Fakir D’Oudairies, King George third Saint Calvados and Silviniaco Conti winner Mister Fisher. You can find our pundits’ best bets below.
Ascot Chase tips
Fran Berry: I like the profile of MISTER FISHER. He’s getting it together. He won last time out at Kempton when beating Eldorado Allen. That form looks very good now after his win at Newbury. James Bowen is a big plus for me in these types of races. The pace will likely be strong and Mister Fisher comes here with the profile of an improving Nicky Henderson runner.
Matt Chapman: SAINT CALVADOS has trip and conditions in his favour and really should have a great chance for Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls. It’s his second run after a wind operation and he ran a cracker in the King George at Christmas when clearly not staying the trip. He goes in the mud and has decent back form including a second in the superb Paddy Power Gold Cup and Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. He really should go well.
Mick Fitzgerald: FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES won the Melling Chase at Aintree last season, beating proven graded performers. He was messy in the early part of the race last time at Thurles behind Allaho but he won at Clonmel on soft ground last November. In between those runs he ran a good race in the John Durkan Chase when fourth to Allaho and this contest looks a really good fit for him.
Frank Hickey: SAINT CALVADOS hasn’t won since October 2019 but he has only had six starts in the interim, which include a neck defeat to Min in the 2020 Ryanair and a fourth and a third in the last two King George’s. On both occasions he travelled like the best horse but stamina let him down. Testing ground is no issue and he should travel well here and as long as the stable form isn’t too much of an issue, he should go close at least. Nicholls had three runners this week since the weekend. A second in a four runner race but had a winner and a close second with the other two.
Timeform: Top-class Irish chaser FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES was an impressive winner of Aintree’s Melling Chase when last seen on these shores in the spring so he looks the way to go given he also handles the mud really well. Fanion d’Estruval represents the all-conquering Venetia Williams and is feared most, although King George VI third Saint Calvados and last year’s victor Dashel Drasher should also have a say.
Ascot Chase tips summary
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