Every great race deserves a replay and last month’s thrilling Tingle Creek could be played out once more at Ascot, where the first and second face each other in the Clarence House Chase. Defi Du Seuil (3.35) is rightly favourite to come out on top again.
This could be called an away game for him, as he was beaten at odds-on when he last ran at Ascot, whereas Un De Sceaux is a triple winner of this race. But Defi’s yard was under a cloud when he flopped here in 2017 and he has since made up into an exciting chaser. With Philip Hobbs’s runners in great form, he should get his third win of the season.
1.50 Ascot Papagana should not be underestimated but it is easy enough to accept Magic Of Light as the superior talent and she can repeat last year’s success.
2.05 Haydock A hood is tried on Edwardstone, who raced keenly in victory at Aintree last month. He wouldn’t get away with similar behaviour on this deeper ground and Thebannerkingrebel makes more appeal. He won here in November and should thrive in the mud, though his jumping could be tidier.
2.25 Ascot A disappointing eight runners for this handicap hurdle, which may fall to the only last-time-out winner, Bold Plan. A progressive type with Evan Williams, he was impressive at Haydock in November and can defy a 10lb rise.
2.40 Haydock It was a huge run by the confusingly named Acting Lass to be second in Ascot’s Silver Cup just before Christmas, giving 5lb to the winner, a course specialist. He comes from an in-form yard, so there is every hope of a similar effort here, which would probably be enough. Midnight Tune is hard to weigh up but should go well from the other end of the weights.
3.00 Ascot Espoir De Guye was breathtakingly good around here four weeks ago but he has been raised a stone and the opposition is classier this time. Preference is for Happy Diva, who is having such a great winter. Having landed the BetVictor in November, she ran to a similar level when just a head behind Lady Buttons last time and still looks ahead of her mark.
3.15 Haydock It’s surprising to see Pentland Hills sent here, as a free-going sort who finished weakly last time, a profile which ought to make him vulnerable in this mud. Moreover, he meets all three rivals on worse terms than if this were a handicap. It’s a tricky contest but Ballyandy may be the percentage play after his fair third in the Christmas Hurdle. He should be staying on stoutly at the finish.
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