Timeform's Andrew Asquith recommends a Nap, Next Best and Each-Way selection at Ascot on Saturday.
"...very much an exciting type who could prove this mark very lenient..."
Timeform on Sam Barton
NAP: Course specialist can win again
Vinndication has an exemplary record at Ascot, winning all three of his starts at this track, including this race in 2019 from a 7 lb lower mark.
He was winless last season, but he was backed into favouritism for his return in the Charlie Hall Chase won by Cyrname on his return and was reverted to hurdles after a disappointing run in the Ladbrokes Trophy (where he started joint-favourite).
The plan was always to return to fences this season and, given he starts off at his favoured track, he will likely be fully tuned up for this, plus he record fresh is fantastic too. This mark shouldn't prove beyond him and a big run is anticipated.
NEXT BEST: Barton can make his mark
First of all, this looks a cracking novices' handicap chase, with a plethora of potential talent on show. The one that stands out, though, is the Emma Lavelle-trained Sam Barton, who seems sure to improve for the switch to fences.
He shaped with promise on his first two starts over hurdles and put it all together when bolting up at Doncaster in January, and that race worked out well.
Very testing ground proved too much for him on handicap debut at Sandown on his final start, shaping better than the bare result and arguably looking like the best long-term prospect in the race. Sam Barton has an imposing physique and looks every inch a chaser, very much an exciting type who could prove this mark very lenient.
EACH WAY: Compensation awaits for Megan
Megan made an impressive start for these connections when making a winning debut over hurdles at Leicester in November last year, looking an exciting prospect, and she started favourite for a listed event at Aintree on her next start.
She could only finish third but left the impression she was outstayed on heavy ground. Megan ran as if amiss on her only other start last season, but very much caught the eye on her recent return to action at Chepstow this month.
The manner in which she cruised into contention on that handicap debut suggests she remains with plenty of potential and would have likely taken a fair bit of beating if not crumpling on landing at the third-last. Ground conditions should be ideal for her and, while this looks a hot race, she looks overpriced racing from the same mark.
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