Balder Succes: is now the 8-1 third favourite for the Ryanair ChasePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Balder bashes Ascot rivals for second Grade 1
Report: Ascot, Saturday
Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1) 2m5½f, 5yo+
THE step up in trip seems to have been the making of Alan King's Balder Succes, with the seven-year-old travelling strongly and jumping boldly to register the second Grade 1 win of his career by three and a quarter lengths from Ma Filleule.
Riverside Theatre in 2012 and Cue Card a year later went on from Ascot to win the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and bookmakers reacted by cutting Balder Succes to follow up in the Cheltenham race, with several firms going 8-1 (from 12).
And it was a performance that merited such a reaction, with Balder Succes settled in rear by Wayne Hutchinson and jumping his way through the field so that, turning for home, he was in front and piling the pressure on his rivals.
Nicky Henderson's Ma Filleule was the only runner who could live with King's good looking seven-year-old, but even she could not land a blow, as he galloped up the straight to a commanding win.
Wayne Hutchinson: "now he's fulfilling the hopes we always had of him"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
"I'm thrilled to bits with that," said Hutchinson. "It's been at the back of our minds since the start of the year that a step up in trip might suit him well, and it's been the making of him. Kempton was a weak assignment but it gave him confidence and now he's fulfilling the hopes we always had of him."
King added: "I'm both relieved and thrilled. That was just what I wanted to see and probably a little better than I expected. The owners are away, but I'm sure it will be the Ryanair next.
"He's in his comfort zone again. Over two and a half miles they just go half a stride slower early on, those good two milers were just getting him at it and taking him out of his comfort zone."
Balder Succes has run at Cheltenham three times but is yet to complete the course and King said: "I'm fairly comfortable with taking him back to Cheltenham. In the Triumph there was a false start and he completely boiled over and fell at halfway.
"Then on his second start over fences it was one of those low sun days when they didn't take the fences out, but he was bolting up when he came down."
Alan King (right): "I'm both relieved and thrilled"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
A Grade 1 winner over two miles at last season's Grand National meeting as a novice, King's stable star was turned over on four subsequent starts over the shorter trip in Graded company.
But stepped up to 2m4½f on his last start Balder Succes made light work of the step up in trip at Kempton and the extra furlong here at Ascot proved no hindrance.
Nicky Henderson is keen to take on the winner again at the festival. He said: "She will come on for that and I suppose we better take the winner on again. I suspect the Ryanair is the right race for her. She travels and she jumps and if you went any further you wouldn't be able to fire her like you can over this trip."