The big talking points as Ascot rounds off its jumps season with quality card
With over £150,000 in prize money up for grabs at Ascot’s final jumps meeting of the season, all equine age groups are catered for with a juvenile hurdle taking centre stage alongside a veterans’ chase.
The Sport Relief/GBR Billion Steps Challenge Juvenile Hurdle (2.35) marks a quick return to racecourse duty for the Gary Moore-trained Eragon De Chanay, who finished an honourable seventh in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival just 11 days ago.
Moore admitted that he hopes the quick reappearance does not come too soon: “He's 100 per cent but it's a bit of a worry turning him out again – he seems fine at home even though we've not done much with him and the options are running out as far as the season goes. It’s a decent prize so we have to take our chance.”
Plenty of weight
Paul Nicholls is represented by Malaya, who was last seen chasing home Redicean in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton a month ago, and he is hopeful of another big run from the mare even though she has to shoulder joint top weight.
He said: “We were pleased with her performance at Kempton as she stayed on well but could not match the winner’s [Redicean] speed and she will come into this race a good bit fresher than some of her main rivals. However, she is not very big and and has plenty of weight so we would not want any rain.”
“We have had to pick and choose and try to avoid the worst of the ground but that's not always been possible and the rain just does not seem to stop. It’s still quite bad and if we get a lot of rain there is every chance we will not have any runners at Taunton on Monday, which shows how bad it is."
He is also keeping his fingers crossed that any rain that hits Ascot is only light as he is keen to let Diego Du Charmil take his chance in the Ascot Spring Garden Show Novices’ Handicap Chase (3.45).
The trainer said: “Diego Du Charmil is a good example of the type of horse who has not been seen due to the ground as this will only be his fourth outing of the season. He needs decent ground full stop so hopefully Ascot gets a dry night as we are running out of time with him as a novice chaser.”
Just the ticket
Theatre Guide has not visited the winner’s circle for 16 months but connections will be hopeful the 11-year-old can make a return to winning ways in the Grandnational.fans Veteran’s Handicap Chase (4.20) after pulling up at Kempton last month.
Trainer Colin Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe said: “The old horse has been given a chance by the handicapper as he has dropped him a few pounds to a mark of 149 which means he can run in 0-150 races such as this which will be his first race in veterans’ company.
“We sidestepped the Midlands Grand National with him last Saturday with this contest very much in mind and he seems in really good form at present. While it's obviously a competitive race I would be hopeful he can go well as the track and ground should suit.”
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