Betfair Ascot Chase: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide

Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls is double-handed in Saturday's Ascot Chase
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Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Saturday's Betfair Ascot Chase, and pick out their 1-2-3...

"...gave 6 lb to Charbel when accounting for that rival in November and, with that form franked since, he edges a narrow verdict..."

Timeform on Politologue

1. ASO (Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch)
High-class chaser who has taken his form to a higher level in two starts this season, landing competitive handicap at Newbury (from BHA mark of 150, by 13 lengths from Touch Kick) in November. Made light of 8 lb rise in the weights when following up in seven-runner Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham (by two lengths from subsequent winner Happy Diva, leading at the eighth and making rest) last time. Third in the 2017 Ryanair and will presumably be aimed at that race again in the spring, but this looks a good calling point, and likely to run well once more despite the step back up in grade. Lively outsider.

2. CHARBEL (Kim Bailey/David Bass)
Has a poor record over fences at the Cheltenham Festival, but consistent and high-class chaser otherwise. Better than ever this season, winning handicap at Chepstow in October and Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon (by eight lengths from God's Own) in December. Not quite in same form, the presence of Speredek seeming to unsettle him, neither travelling nor jumping so well as at Huntingdon, when five and a quarter lengths third of five to Top Notch in listed event at Kempton last time. Not to be discounted here, with any drying of the ground in his favour, but may face stiff competition for the lead once more.

3. CYRNAME (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden)
Top-class chaser who won three times in 2017/18, namely novice handicap at Huntingdon and Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton, both over 2m, and Pendil Novices' Chase (by 11 lengths from The Unit) at latter venue. Better than ever when impressively winning 10-runner bet365 Handicap Chase over C&D (by 21 lengths from Doitforthevillage, jumping well/tanking along in lead and clear from fifth) last time. Back up in grade here and unlikely to get such an easy time on the lead, but repeat performance would see him firmly in the mix. Acts on most ground.

4. FOX NORTON (Colin Tizzard/Robbie Power)

Fox Norton 1280.jpg

Top-class chaser who was successful four times in 2016/17, including Melling Chase at Aintree and Boylesports Champion Chase at Punchestown. Not himself when pulled up in 2017 King George experiment, but shaped as if retaining all his ability after 13 months off with injury when seven lengths second (without usual hood) to superstar Altior in 2m Clarence House Chase here last time. Should be much more competitive now if going the right way from that. Stays this trip so no issues with step back up in distance and big performance expected.

5. POLITOLOGUE (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies)
Top-class, bold-jumping chaser who won four times in 2017/18, including Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and Melling Chase at Aintree (by neck from Min). Made fine start to this campaign when winning 1965 Chase over C&D (by half a length from Charbel) in November, taking course record to 2/2, and possibly failed to stay when 18 lengths fourth of 10 to Clan des Obeaux in 3m King George VI Chase at Kempton last time. Drop in trip in his favour, and should get strong pace here which suits his strong-travelling style, so bold bid expected once more.

6. WAITING PATIENTLY (Ruth Jefferson/Brian Hughes)
Exciting chaser who is lightly raced for his age and unbeaten when completing over fences. Won intermediate chase at Carlisle, listed event at Kempton and this race (by two and three quarter lengths from defending champion Cue Card) in 2017/18.Passed his most demanding test at the time with flying colours that day, putting up a top-class effort, typically travelling well and produced to lead before last. Hampered and unseated at the ninth in King George VI Chase won by Clan des Obeaux at Kempton on return in December, through no fault of his own. Could yet prove to be something out of the ordinary and big effort expected, with race likely to be run to suit.

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