Ascot Saturday

Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1)

HEAVY ground prevailed for Ascot Chase day, and the emphasis was very much on stamina as a result. The Grade 1 feature saw favourite Fakir D’Oudairies ensconced in the racecourse stables on Thursday to avoid travelling in the worst of the storms.

The tactic paid dividends as Joseph O’Brien’s 9/4 market leader took the honours by one and three-quarter lengths from the gallant Two For Gold (Kim Bailey/David Bass) despite a mistake at the penultimate fence.

Fanion D’Estruval (Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch) failed to jump with any great fluency through the first half of the race, but was held together by his rider, and finished best to grab third, the same distance away.

Fakir D’Oudairies now heads to the Ryanair in which he was runner-up to Allaho a year ago, and while Mark Walsh noted that he didn’t travel as well as he’d have liked here, he typically found plenty for pressure to take his Grade 1 record to a very respectable 422211.

Career best

Two For Gold has raised his game this winter, winning the inaugural Fleur de Lys Chase at Lingfield, and he proved that was fully deserved with another career best here, jumping well up with the pace, and briefly looking like taking advantage of the winner’s late error.

He was boosting his Grand National claims, but connections rate him an unlikely runner, and he didn’t take to the fences in last year’s Topham.

Of the others, 2021 winner Dashel Drasher was leading when making a dreadful blunder four fences out, and weakened tamely thereafter, and Waiting Patiently showed none of his old spark, and was promptly retired.

His career highlight was a stylish win over Cue Card in the corresponding event in 2018.

Bailey in the Know

KIM Bailey has his horses ticking over nicely, as Two For Gold showed in the Ascot Chase, and he had already registered a winner on the card when Does He Know and David Bass ran out an easy winner of the Grade 2 Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase despite a mixed round of jumping.

He was better placed throughout than runner-up Doyen Breed (Sandy Thomson/Ryan Mania), the latter uncomfortable with the pace from an early stage, but largely avoiding mistakes and staying on to be beaten 14 lengths.

Annual Invictus (Chris Gordon/Tom Cannon) was trying the trip for the first time under rules, and shaped like a non-stayer in a 20-length third.

Favourite Corach Rambler was let down by his jumping, beginning to move into contention when unseating at the fifth last fence.

Does He Know had opened favourite after declarations, and the fact that he drifted to 9/2 at the off is an indication of concern over his ability to handle conditions.


In the end his class came through, and the first three were the only trio rated above 140, which tells its own tale. The winner is in the National Hunt Chase, but Bailey has suggested that the Ultima Handicap Chase may be a more likely target.

On his Cheltenham chances, it should be noted that he typically went to post early here, and is regularly a handful in the preliminaries, so how well he will cope with a big crowd at Cheltenham is open to debate.

Stylish Good Risk At All steps up well

SAM Thomas, Charlie Deutsch, and Dai Walters were in double form with Good Risk At All (Charlie Deutsch) taking the Dingley’s Promise Handicap Hurdle in the style of a well-handicapped gelding, and he will remain that way after a double-figure rise in the weights.

The owner/trainer/jockey combination had earlier landed the novice hurdle with Skytastic.

The Listed Swinley Chase provided a feel-good moment with claiming conditional Hugh Nugent winning on board Fortescue.

Owner/breeder Tim Nixon is the rider’s grandfather.

He is a long-time supporter of the Henry Daly yard with a host of homebred horses who have carried his orange and green quarters with distinction since the days when the late Tim Forster steered the ship.