Ascot Placepot: Saturday December 20

There's some high-class racing at Ascot on Saturday
There's some high-class racing at Ascot on Saturday

There's a good card at Ascot and that is where we head for Saturday's attempt at the Placepot...

12:45- Wizards Bridge didn't need to improve to get off the mark at Fontwell last time, but he showed that he handled testing ground extremely well, and he remains unexposed, particularly granted a stiff test of stamina. He looks to be fairly treated and ought to give a good account for the in-form Tizzard yard. We will also include Under The Phone in the permutation as he shaped well when gambled on at Ludlow last time, leaving the impression he should have finished closer having been left with too much to do. He is another that should benefit from this kind of test and shouldn't be overlooked.  

13:15- Puffin Billy raced with real enthusiasm when winning here last month, showing much improved form from his chasing debut, and he looks set to make a better chaser than hurdler. He is the type to improve further with experience and a bold bid is assured. We will also put Thomas Crapper in the Placepot as he is a likeable type who has taken well to chasing, in spite of running over an inadequate trip this season. He can up his game now faced with a suitable test.  

13:50- The fact just seven are set to go to post makes this tricky, and we won't bank on anything, though Malibu Sun clearly makes plenty of appeal, arriving here as an in-form, progressive chaser. Malibu Sun needs to step up again if he is to add another win to his impressive tally, but the manner of his strong-travelling, bold-jumping successes suggest that he could still have more to offer, and we'll keep him on our side. Ballygarvey has been off for a while, but he returns from a lenient-looking mark and, with his yard in such good form, ought to put up a bold show. 

14:25- Reve de Sivola has taken this contest for the last two seasons and he could take a bit of catching as he bids for the hat-trick. Reve de Sivola hasn't been in the best form since his wide-margin win here last year, but he evidently thrives over this C&D and he will ensure that his rivals must thoroughly stay. We will bank on a return to optimum conditions sparking Reve de Sivola back to something like his best. 

15:00- Plenty of these have questions to answer, but that doesn't apply to The Young Master who arrives here as an unexposed, improving chaser, and he can gain some belated compensation for losing the Badger Ales Trophy on a technicality (wasn't qualified to run in the race). The Young Master has shown that he handles testing conditions, stays strongly and he could yet do even better in this sphere. 

15:30- Dan Skelton gained a breakthrough success as a trainer when saddling Willow's Saviour to win last season's renewal, and he has a fair chance of securing back-to-back wins with Shelford. Shelford has done well since joining Skelton and showed improved form when running on strongly to win the Silver Trophy at Chepstow. The drop back to two miles isn't an obvious positive, but, with soft ground, his proven stamina may well be an asset, and he should be on the premises. This is clearly ultra-competitive stuff, so we will also keep Baradari on side as he looks reasonably treated on some of his form, and can be given a good chance if forgiven a disappointing effort last time. 

12:45- 1, 12
13:15- 2, 5
13:50- 4, 5
14:25- 4
15:00- 4
15:30- 9, 13
= 16 lines

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