Weekend Preview: Betfair Ascot Chase the Saturday feature
Ascot stages some excellent racing on Saturday.
"Riverside Theatre was last seen when winning the corresponding race last year, beating Gauvain in authoritative style..."
Timeform preview an excellent weekend of racing, featuring action from Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton on Saturday, and Navan on Sunday...
The opening mention has to go to Black Caviar, who will be seeking a 19th straight win in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington on Saturday morning, the race due off at 05:10 GMT. For more on the contest, read Timeform's preview: "New challenge awaits Black Caviar".
Ascot's feature race, the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase staged over two miles and five furlongs, is a fascinating contest with a number of Cheltenham hopefuls in the line-up. Kauto Stone, a half-brother to the outstanding Kauto Star, will make just his third start for Paul Nicholls having previously been trained in France and will be seeking a second win. His success in a Grade 2 at Down Royal was impressive and the drop to two miles in his following race was unlikely to be ideal.
However, on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings he has 9 lb to find with the returning Riverside Theatre and 3 lb with the Alan King-trained Medermit. The former was last seen when winning the corresponding race last year, beating Gauvain in authoritative style, although his fitness will have to be taken on trust. Medermit, runner-up in the December Gold Cup on his most recent appearance, is likely to be the strongest challenger to Riverside Theatre.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Bobs Worth is the headline entry in the Reynoldstown Chase, Grade 2 a novices' event over three miles. The seven-year-old, rated 153p over fences by Timeform, won the Albert Bartlett at last season's Cheltenham Festival before embarking on a chasing career which has, so far, resulted in a narrow victory over Cue Card at Newbury and a creditable third to Grands Crus at Kempton.
Bobs Worth is likely to have improved for that experience and is a strong candidate, although Silviniaco Conti, who finished a place in front of him at Kempton, is also in the line-up. Invictus, another Alan King runner, adds further intrigue as he steps to the distance for the first time.
Ascot's 14:25 appears to be a fairly open 13-runner handicap, with the Paul Nicholls-trained The Minack, successful on his last visit to the track, heading the weights. Pearlysteps, Cappa Bleu, Exmoor Ranger and Tullamore Dew would be others to consider.
Haydock's feature event is the Grand National Trial, in which the Welsh National first and second (Le Beau Bai and Giles Cross) are currently tied at the head of the market. Aintree hopeful Neptune Collonges will carry top-weight, ensuring the likes of Sona Sasta, Rey Nacarado and King Fontaine run from out of the handicap.
Moving on to Wincanton, where the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle is the stand out race, boasting a line-up that includes Binocular, Celestial Halo and the returning Starluck. Binocular comes out 4 lb clear on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings, with the other two tied, giving hope of a fairly tight-knit affair.
Ireland plays host to some interesting races over the weekend, at Gowran on Saturday and Navan on Sunday. To find out more about the Irish action, read Timeform's preview "Rubi Light to return in Red Mills".
Timeform's Horses to Follow Extra Ascot Chase issue is out now and features no less than six big-race previews and an interview with Alan King.
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