The headline act on the card is Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase, where previous winnerCyrname will be looking to regain his crown against rivals including stablemate Master Tommytucker.
Paul Nicholls’ nine-year-old became the highest-rated chaser in Britain thanks to his 17-length demolition in the Grade One contest in 2019, a position he consolidated when he got the better of Altior in a much-anticipated clash over the same course and distance early last season.
However, he subsequently failed to fire when hot favourite for the King George VI Chase at Kempton, and was already on the retreat when suffering a heavy fall at the final fence in defence of his Ascot Chase crown 12 months ago.
Elsewhere on the card, there’s also what looks like a wide open renewal of the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase, plus a high-class novice hurdle to kick things off, which could have implications for the Cheltenham Festival. It’s a hell of a day’s racing and we are back for more with Newbury tomorrow.
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Result: 1.15 Ascot
1. Midnight River 2 Gallyhill
Fascinating betting and actual race this, with Midnight River hammered on the exchanges and going off favourite, but Gallyhill met traffic before two out (due to the clever riding of Harry Skelton on the winner) and shaped really well all told. They pulled miles clear.
Racing’s leading ladies
One of racing’s most formidable women, Hollie Doyle, has just struck for Willie Mullins, winning a huge pot in Riyadh aboard True Self, who was bought for small money after winning a bumper. However, one of racing’s most formidable women, Bryony Frost, was touched off in the first at Wincanton on the first of the hotpots of the day. The second, Gallyhill, is odds-against on Betfair in Ascot’s opener. They’re down at the start.
Gallyhill is hovering around evens on Betfair for the opener at Ascot at 1.05. He’s a really fine looking horse, bigger than second-favourite Midnight River.
Fourteen for Nicholls
PF Nicholls has just the 14 runners across the cards today, with the favourite and second-favourite, both a little weak in the wagering, in the feature at Ascot. Pozo Emery, 1.5 on Betfair, is the first of them (1.05 Wincanton) under the in-form Bryony Frost.
There’s some hot Flat action in Arabia today with Ryan Moore, Hollie Doyle, Frankie Dettori, William Buick and James Doyle among those riding in Riyadh.
Hotpot in the first to repay the faith?
They kick off with the 1.15 at Ascot. Odds-on favourite Gallyhill is bidding to win just over £10,000 but he has a long way to go to justify the £450,000 paid for him after he won a point in 2019. He kicked off his Rules career with a ready win at Newbury.
Cyrname to bounce back?
Given how far clear he is on ratings, it might be a pleasant surprise to punters that Cyrname is comfortably north of odds-on in the big one (3.35). Paul Nicholls’ charge can be backed at 2.18 (nearly 6-5) on Betfair.
‘Horse of a lifetime’
Cyrname seeks to bounce back to his brilliant best as he bids for a second victory in the Betfair Ascot Chase.
Jockey Harry Cobden is relishing the opportunity to get back on board Cyrname, whom he describes as “the horse of a lifetime”.
“When he won the race a couple of years ago, he was very, very good,” said the jockey.
“It was the best performance of any horse I’ve ever ridden around a racecourse – the way he jumped and travelled and beat all those good horses like Politologue, Waiting Patiently and Fox Norton. It was phenomenal, (and) I suppose that’s where he got his rating of 176.
“He’s the horse of a lifetime. Not very many people, riders or trainers, have horses like that come along in their life.
“I’ve won various races with him ,and hopefully he hasn’t won his last one – I’m sure he’s got plenty more in the tank.”