Nicholls chaser bidding for fifth win of highly profitable season
Ascot United FC Novices' Handicap Chase | 2m1f | 5yo+ | RUK
Cheltenham need not be the be-all and end-all of a decent jumper's season – look at San Benedeto, who would take his win prize-money for 2016-17 past £70,000 if he lands his fifth victory of the campaign here.
The smart young chaser has won open handicaps at Musselburgh and Doncaster on his last two starts and is 5lb higher as he reverts to novice company.
Imperial Presence also bypassed the festival and was a ready winner at Newbury last month.
Sam Twiston-Davies said San Benedeto could be the pick of his rides this weekend in his Racing Post column on Saturday, adding: "He goes there in good shape and must hold every chance."
Age on Devil's side
All bar one of the four runnings of this race has gone to a seven-year-old. The only contender of that age today is Red Devil Star.
What they say
Paul Nicholls, trainer of San Benedeto and Clic Work
Both will like the ground. San Benedeto keeps on improving and over 2m in a fast-run race would have a decent chance, although 150 is quite a stiff mark. Clic Work was slightly disappointing at Kempton last time and has either reached his handicap limit or else the track was too easy for him. Ascot should suit him better.
Jonjo O'Neill, trainer of Champagne At Tara
He was very disappointing at Cheltenham. I thought he'd run well and he ran no race, beaten after a mile. But we couldn't find any reason why and he's in good form, so we're having another go. The smaller field may help him.
Philip Hobbs, trainer of Imperial Presence
This is a massive prize for a horse like him and that's why he's running again so quickly after his win at Newbury. He'll like the ground and he's run well at Ascot.
Sam Stronge, husband of Ali Stronge, trainer of Ardmayle
He's a lovely horse and has done everything right since going chasing. There would be a slight concern if the ground was on the quick side but I hope he can keep progressing and he's at the right end of the handicap.