Ascot Chase Preview: Top Notch To Come Out Victorious
Top Notch – 9-4 Betfair Sportsbook and Betway
Only seven horses remain in contention for Saturday’s Ascot Chase at monday’s declaration stage but the Betfair-sponsored contest could prove one of the season’s highlights with several chasing stars expected to take part in the 2m 5f Grade 1.
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First run in 1995 as the Comet Chase the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card won the race in 2013 and repeated the feat 12 months ago, running out an impressive fifteen length winner from Shantou Flyer. But since then the son of King’s Theatre has failed to trouble the judge, falling twice and finishing runner-up on two occasions, the most recent being a 57 length defeat at the hands of Bristol De Mai in Haydock’s Betfair Chase in November.
At the age of 12 the popular gelding’s best days are almost certainly behind him, a possibilty not lost on bookmakers who make the nine-time Grade 1 winner a general 8-1 chance. Paul Nicholls, successful with Rockforce in 2000, Kauto Star in 2008 and Silviniaco Conti two years ago is likely to be represented by Frodon who was so impressive in taking a Cheltenham handicap under a big weight last month. The possible mount of Bryony Frost is a best price 8-1 with Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power and Stan James to follow-up in this higher grade.
The sole Irish entry is Coney Island ( 3-1 Coral ) who, having his first start for a year, ran out a comfortable winner over course and distance just before Christmas and a win here for the JP McManus-owner seven-year-old could see the gelding challenging Sizing John and Native River for second-favouritism in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
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Potential northern raider Waiting Patiently ( 3-1 Betfred ) would be a popular victor for trainer Ruth Jefferson, who’s father Malcolm died recently, but the one they all have to beat is undoubtedly the Nicky Henderson-trained Top Notch. Currently second favourite behind Un De Sceaux for Cheltenham’s Ryanair Chase the Poliglote gelding could be challenging that horse at the top of the ante-post market if reproducing his impressive win in a Grade 2 at the course earlier this season. In what looks sure to prove a fascinating and insightful contest, Top Notch can enhance his festival claims by winning his third race of the season in the Ascot feature.