Back in the game: Cobden looking forward to thrilling trio at Ascot
Huge sporting events at Twickenham and Old Trafford kept Harry Cobden busy during the equine flu outbreak, but it is the massive attraction of Ascot on Saturday that is getting the rider’s juices flowing.
Cobden watched England trounce France in the Six Nations before taking in Manchester United’s 2-0 Champions League defeat to PSG on Tuesday night during racing’s self-imposed six-day shutdown.
Now he has his eyes fixed on Ascot’s nine-race bonanza with huge chances on Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname and Getaway Trump in the Denman Chase, Ascot Chase and Betfair Hurdle.
The 20-year-old returned to action with a winner at Fontwell on Thursday to leave him three victories away from beating last season’s record of 76 winners, despite four months out over the summer with a broken neck.
Clan Des Obeaux, a top-priced 10-1 for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, secured his first Grade 1 win last time out in the King George, and is odds-on to follow up in the Denman Chase.
Cyrname is one of six runners in the Ascot Chase – the field also includes his stablemate Politologue – as he bids to follow up a 21-length demolition job over the course and distance last time out. Getaway Trump a top-priced 7-2 for the Betfair Hurdle on Thursday, which trainer Paul Nicholls said was a likelier destination than Saturday’s Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.
Cobden said: "It was an enjoyable little break. I went to Twickenham and watched the rugby and Old Trafford to watch the football on Tuesday night. I've been riding out the rest of the time.
"Four months is a long time to have off, but thankfully it was in the summer and I wouldn't mind getting to 100 winners this season. Fingers crossed it happens!"
He added: "I’m really looking forward to Ascot. I’ve got plenty of good rides and they're all in really good form.
"With Clan Des Obeaux hopefully it all goes to plan and then it's all roads to the Gold Cup. Politologue is proven at Grade 1 level, but Cyrname is the unknown. They're both very good horses in their own right.”
Nicholls said on Thursday: "I'd say there will be only three or four runners in the Denman Chase and we just want to get a run into Clan Des Obeaux before Cheltenham. He worked well this morning.
"I think Getaway Trump will go for the Betfair, but he's in at Wincanton as well and now it's changed I have the option of switching if I want to.
"I want to run either him or Grand Sancy in the Kingwell and it's a bit of planning we need to get right. I want to see what's going to run in the Wincanton race.
"Grand Sancy ran very well in the Ladbroke at Ascot before Christmas and that track suits him very well and Wincanton would suit Getaway Trump very well. I want to run both horses where they can win – it's more likely that Getaway Trump will run at Ascot but I'm not going to rule anything in or out until declaration time."
Ascot’s red-hot action could be matched by the weather, with sunshine and high temperatures forecast over the next few days.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels said: "We'll be good to soft by the end of Thursday afternoon and It'll probably be a mixture of good and good to soft by the weekend.
"We're delighted to be staging such an exciting raceday and we're looking forward to it."
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