Through The Card: Ascot, Saturday February 18

There is Grade 1 action at Ascot on Saturday
There is Grade 1 action at Ascot on Saturday

Timeform take you through the card at Ascot on Saturday.

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13:15 - Useful Flat performer BEYOND CONCEIT (2) overcame a mammoth absence to score on his hurdling debut at Newbury last month and will surely go close again. The one negative is the possibility for him to 'bounce', but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt, especially with eight runners currently. The huge Topofthegame is his biggest danger after travelling strongly for a long way in a Grade 2 last time, followed by Acting Lass (who is actually a gelding).

13:50 - ARPEGE D'ALENE (2) has been a different horse over fences since fitted with blinkers and can continue the good work and land this Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase for the Paul Nicholls team, who also won this race with Gungadu in 2007 and Rocky Creek in 2013. Fletchers Flyer, trained by Nicholls' protege Harry Fry, shaped as if needing the run on his C&D reappearance and may provide the biggest threat if recapturing his Punchestown handicap form of last spring.

14:25 - A smallish field for this listed staying chase but a tricky prize to solve. It could be worth taking a chance on VIRAK (4) who has yet to fire this season but he shaped better than the bare result in the Peter Marsh at Haydock four weeks ago. He has been dropped 5 lb since that effort, so is now on his lowest handicap mark (147) since winning a handicap at Haydock in April 2015. Given there are only seven runners, it's probably best to take another in the Placepot, so we'll have last year's winner SAUSALITO SUNRISE (1). Go Conquer is next best ahead of the returning O'Faolains Boy.

15:00 - Any number of imponderables for this big-field handicap hurdle, chiefly how much ability long-absent pair ORDO AB CHAO (4) and Oscar Hoof retain. The former has been given a massive chance by the handicapper on his novice form in 2014/15, so it's worth chancing his well-being. It's also worth taking TEMPLEROSS (9) as back-up given the Lanzarote form has worked out well already. Doesyourdogbite is another who is fit and in top form.

15:35 - CUE CARD (1) wasn't at his best behind Thistlecrack in the King George last time, though the ground was probably firm enough for him, so he's fully expected to get back on track in this Grade 1 Ascot Chase (which he won in 2013) and set himself up nicely for another tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Taquin du Seuil is a classy performer on his day, and with likely conditions to suit, is chosen for the forecast spot.

16:10 - A very tricky finale in the Placepot. SPELLBOUND (12) has been given time to come to hand on the back of a lengthy absence and, having impressed with the way he travelled for a long way recently, so we'll take him as he bids to make the most of a potentially lenient mark now fully up to speed. BON ENFANT (1) may not be totally straightforward but he shaped better in first-time blinkers last time and is unexposed over three miles, while his yard is going well too. Fortunate George and Theatre Goer also both arrive at the top of their game.

16:45 - It may pay to focus on the previous winners, with the Robert Stephens-trained Southwell debut scorer LADY VALERIE getting a narrow vote ahead of Sweetlittlemystery and Fergal O'Brien's Dont Tell Val.

Recommendation:

Win back VIRAK in the 16:45

Placepot permutation:

13:15 - 2
13:50 - 2
14:25 - 1, 4
15:00 - 4, 9
15:35 - 1
16:10 - 1, 12

8 lines

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