With a maximum field of 18 going to post and a first prize of almost £57,000 to fight for this is naturally a very competitive event, however it doesn’t look impossible to solve with one or two seemingly ahead of the handicapper.
We’ve got the 18 down to a shortlist of six, with the final selection looking pretty good value.
Adrien Du Pont
Having had a wind operation in the summer its possible we may just see an upturn in form this Paul Nicholls’ charge, though to be fair off a mark that still looks a little high (149) we’ll need to.
He’s won over three miles and on good-to-soft ground so there aren’t too many doubts about him staying the trip, what counts is whether he is good enough off this handicap rating.
An interesting runner for sure; Gary Moore’s 6-year-old is having just his seventh chase start after finishing his debut season over the larger obstacles in very good form indeed, winning twice at Sandown and finishing second at Newbury.
The form of those races wouldn’t necessarily hold up too well here on their own merits, but this is a chaser without too many miles on the clock who can improve for going up in trip making him a decent shout at a fair each-way price.
Much improved since going chasing this time last year, Colin Tizzard’s entrant is three from six over fences now and he appears to like it round Ascot.
Conversely however on the occasions he’s been beaten he’s faced a more thorough test, i.e. a longer trip or softer ground, giving us doubts as to whether he’ll truly see this race out and give his best running on his first start for seven months. Interesting, but probably one for next time.
On The Blind Side
It goes without saying that we cannot easily discount a well-fancied Nicky Henderson runner and we haven’t, though his fledgling chase career is particularly hard to evaluate at this stage.
In the middle of his three chase starts to date he won very well over three miles, however that having been at Kempton on one flat track and his fine hurdling debut win having been achieved on another (Aintree), again we are left with doubts.
While he’s not exactly been overworked and has plenty more left to give yet, Springtown Lake is a 7-year-old with enough experience to do himself justice in this race and that seems a perfect combo.
Of course, the ability has to be there and we believe it is. A winning chase debut this time last year at Sandown marked him out as one who can see it out and he went up another notch when second to Mr Whipped at Haydock.
His form tailed off slightly after that but on a line through some of those he’s raced against and bearing in mind natural improvement for one at his age and stage, he looks potentially very well handicapped for this race and rates a solid chance.
Another having had a wind op since last racing in the spring, this is a runner who’s won six of his 8 races across bumpers, hurdles and chases and so if his surgery has improved him at all, he obviously holds a major chance for Kim Bailey.
The fact is though that after having won a Grade 2 and finished third in a Grade 1, he hasn’t exactly gone unnoticed by the handicapper and so off 151 he has his work cut out. Much like Mister Malarky he remains of interest, but perhaps with a view to being sharpened up for a big run next time.
Vinndication could go up to a new level this season, but whether it’ll happen straight away and whether it’ll be done in a handicap are both open to question, so with enough doubts he’s just passed over this time.
Gary Moore’s Larry has plenty more to give and may well give the selection some worrying moments, but at these weights it’s hard to get away from the chances of Philip Hobbs’ SPRINGTOWN LAKE.
As short as 16/1 for the BetVictor Gold Cup at the Cheltenham November meeting, this is a horse expected now to make his mark in the big races and off a rating of just 138, he can do that right from the very beginning of his season.