Paul Nicholls: Scaramanga has a leading chance for me at Ascot on Sunday
We have some good racing at Ascot on Sunday afternoon, and Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has seven runners on the card, all of which he discusses below...
*Best chance. Scaramanga. 14:45. Came good at Taunton and looks to be on a decent mark for his handicap debut."
Stiff track can suit
14:10 - My Way
He ran his best race for us last time at Kempton and briefly looked like winning a competitive handicap there before finishing second to a 20-1 shot Wicked Willy. This trip is arguably a bit shorter than ideal for My Way but Ascot is a stiff track and he will be keeping on soundly at the finish.
A good run from him here could see him join our team for Ayr next month. Further ahead My Way is going to be exciting over fences next season.
Leading chance for ex-Flat recruit
14:45 - Scaramanga
After a couple of near misses he came good in style last time at Taunton, jumping fluently and readily pulling clear of Melekhov by nine lengths on the run-in.
A mark of 127 looks fair for a horse who was rated 85 on the flat when he had decent form for James Fanshawe. Scaramanga is going well at home and will relish the drying ground at Ascot. Leading chance.
Diva will like the ground
14:45 -Deadline Diva
Has taken a bit of time to acclimatise since joining us after winning over hurdles in France in September. She fell late on at Kempton on her debut for us and found it all happening a bit too quickly when finishing in the rear in the Adonis Hurdle last time five weeks ago.
While Deadline Diva has been a shade disappointing so far she will enjoy the ground at Ascot and should come into her own next season.
Big run expected down in grade
15:20 - Favorito Bucks
Won a handicap really well at this track in November and you can put a line through his last run at Sandown where he couldn't handle the deep ground and was eventually pulled up.
This is a much more suitable race for Favorito Buck's who is down in grade and will be in his element now the ground has dried up. I am expecting a big run from him.
Progressive horse has a big chance
15:55 - Capeland
Genuine and consistent, he has had a terrific season which has seen his handicap mark shoot up from 127 to 144. On his most recent start in the JLT at Cheltenham he was travelling really nicely behind the leaders until a right mistake at the top of the hill took the wind out of his sails. That put an end to any hopes of him being involved.
I expect Capeland to be very competitive again dropping down in trip here against four opponents. He is a progressive horse who remains in top shape and enjoys coming off the pace on fast ground.
Improved display likely with conditions to suit
17:05 - Peak To Peak
Was more than useful for us a couple of years ago when finishing a close third behind Court Minstrel in a red hot running of the Totepool Silver Trophy at Chepstow. But he has struggled in two starts on his return from a break of 490 days through injury.
Peak to Peak is a big, gross, powerful horse who has needed plenty of graft and ran with a bit more promise last time at Wincanton early this month until dropped away after the second last hurdle.
He needed those two runs, is a lot straighter now, and should relish the good ground at Ascot which should be perfect for him. So I am expecting a much improved display from Peak to Peak.
In-form Virak can go well
17:40 - Virak
I own a half share in Virak who used to be a very useful staying handicapper for me. In the end he rather lost his way as he was in the grip of the handicapper but he has got his mojo back now he is running in point-to-points.
Rose Loxton, who trains in Ditcheat, has done a brilliant job turning round Virak who is full of confidence after winning on all three starts in points ridden each time by Natalie Parker. He looks to have a first rate chance in this Hunter Chase.