JUST the three runners have been declared for tomorrow’s Grade One Matchbook Clarence House Chase (3.35pm), as connections of last year’s winner Un De Sceaux have opted to stay at home rather than take on the mighty Altior.
Nicky Henderson’s nine-year-old is just 1/8 to win his 12th straight race over fences and it’s hard to envisage either Fox Norton or Diego Du Charmil being anywhere near good enough to even ruffle his feathers.
Fox Norton hasn’t seen a racecourse for over a year and is on the comeback trail from injury, while Diego Du Charmil was beaten 19 lengths by Altior last time and is 3lbs worse off at the weights.
It should still provide a good spectacle, but certainly not one from a betting perspective.
There are a host of interesting supporting races, although we won’t actually know the confirmed runners until the declaration stage later this morning.
That makes tipping horses a nightmare as I’m trying to do so before trainers have even made up their minds as to whether they are going to run or not.
Regular followers of this column will know I’ve recommended a few non-runners in recent weeks, but I’m afraid that unfortunately comes with the territory.
I’d be very keen to support MISTER WHITAKER again if he takes his chance off top weight in the Bet365 Handicap Chase (3.00pm).
The rain that hit Berkshire earlier in the week may just have tilted connections into running here rather than waiting for next weekend’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
This 2m5f trip on rain-softened ground looks just what he wants and he will take plenty of beating.
He can currently be backed at 8/1 for tomorrow’s assignment and I expect him to be half that price if featuring in the final field.
Irish raider Thosedaysaregone is a warm order for the Matchbook Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle (2.25pm) having bolted up at Wetherby last weekend.
He could easily still be ahead of the handicapper, but I’m prepared to take him on with one at a double figure price in BETTER GETALONG for the in-form Nicky Richards stable.
He is another who will relish every drop of rain that falls and there is some scheduled to arrive this evening and into tomorrow.
Admittedly, he was a little disappointing on really bad ground at Haydock last month when second to Ballymoy, but I’m prepared to forgive him that.
He never seemed to travel and got going too late. I’m hoping that was just an off day and think he can bounce back here.
The trip should be ideal for him and at 10/1 with Coral he looks the each-way call.
My final recommendation requires a little more imagination, but I’ve been desperate to see Warren Greatrex try PETTICOAT TAILS over three miles and he does just that in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (1.50pm).
She was second here on similar ground over a couple of furlongs shorter back in November and looked to be crying out for this step up in trip.
This certainly looks a hotter contest with the likes of If You Say Run and Culture De Sivola potentially in opposition, but 14/1 looks to underestimate her chances.
Any rain will also help and I’m looking forward to seeing her back in action.
Petticoat Tails e/w 1.50pm Ascot
Better Getalong e/w 2.25pm Ascot
Mister Whitaker e/w 3.00pm Ascot