Ascot Placepot: Friday December 19

It's the first day of Ascot's big pre-Christmas meeting
It's the first day of Ascot's big pre-Christmas meeting

Ascot is undoubtedly the trickiest card of the day, but the potential rewards make up for it.

"Gunner Fifteen coming out of this Grade 2 novice makes no odds. We’d have taken the other three anyway and therefore his defection just makes sure we get through."

12:50 - Though we've no firm reason to doubt favourite Champagne Present's credentials, Buckthorn Timothy rates as just about as good a prospect for the first three such is his experience and form.

13:20 - This is a fairly precarious leg, with only two places available and each of the five runners having a realistic chance of making one. Therefore if we're going to bank, it'll have to be on Dance Floor King. He's taken extremely well to fences and that view has hardened in the last few weeks without him even running; both horses placed behind him at Wincanton late last month have won since.

13:55 - Gunner Fifteen coming out of this Grade 2 novice makes no odds. We'd have taken the other three anyway and therefore his defection just makes sure we get through. It's just a shame that the three left, all top prospects, aren't meeting in more satisfactory circumstances.

14:30 - The presence of Josses Hill, the outstanding prospect over fences among this lot who happens to be the only one without any experience, makes this a little more tricky. In most of the likely scenarios, Ptit Zig does no worse than finish second to Josses Hill, so a banker on him makes most sense.

15:05 - A race with plenty of unexposed sorts forces us to take a couple. Dream Deal is first in, presumably saved for something like this after taking a race at Exeter in good style on his reappearance. Spartan Angel also has the feel of one being saved, saved for Barry Geraghty in her case as he takes over in the saddle after her career-best effort over C&D last time.

15:40 - A rare appearance of a bumper on the Placepot perm. We're taking the default option and, acknowledging how little we've seen of Yanworth's considerable ability, will plump for Willie Mullins. He's sent over Rio Treasure, who was just about as effortless as Yanworth in running to a useful level last time. Stonegate is the best backup option, the fact his impressive winning debut came recently enough to put him ahead of Simon Squirrel.

Selections:
12:50 - 4
13:20 - 4
13:55 - 1, 2, 4
14:30 - 3
15:05 - 7, 11
15:40 - 7, 12

= 12 lines

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