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Ptit Zig fancied to step out of novice company in style at Ascot

| 13.02.2015

Time is running out for connections to get a prep run into their charges before any potential assault on the Cheltenham Festival, and with no fewer than eight Graded races from around the UK and Ireland, it should be a cracker of an afternoon.

At Ascot, not only is there the Grade 1 Ascot Chase but we have the Reynoldstown Chase, a contest that last year saw the subsequent RSA Chase winner and Hennessy Gold Cup victor lead home the chasing pack.

Black-type contests come from Haydock and Wincanton in the shape of the Rendlesham Hurdle and the Kingwell Hurdle, while plenty of Grand National are set to make an appearance at the former.

Our latest racing podcast gave the once over to four of the big races this weekend…

But for the sake of our best bets we are staying firmly in Berkshire, with a trio of competitors that could represent a very intriguing trixie.

Remember if you back a winner at 4/1 or bigger on any live Channel 4 race on Saturday, you will receive a free bet of up to £25!*

Here’s who we fancy…

14:05 – Deputy Dan

Oliver Sherwood will be hoping first-time blinkers spark Deputy Dan back into winning form after fading late on last time out.

Last season’s Albert Bartlett runner up was beaten by the re-opposing Virak on chasing debut, but he did allow Paul Nicholls’ charge to steal an early lead that day, something Leighton Aspell will be keen not to do again.

He’s fancied to reverse that form, with Virak having his limitations exposed at Kempton last time out, after triumphing in three small field affairs, while there are stamina doubts over David Pipe’s mare Ainsi Fideles.

Currently a 33/1 shot for the RSA Chase, Deputy Dan needs to be winning this if he is to hold much hope going into the Festival.

14:40 – Clondaw Knight

A round-trip of over 850 miles shows the belief Lucinda Russell must have in her seven-year-old gelding.

The Perthshire trainer has only had three runners at Ascot in the past five seasons, but with two of those winning (both her chase entries), she certainly seems to know what she’s doing.

Indeed a step up in trip seemed to bring out plenty more from Clondaw Knight, smashing a decent handicap field by 14l+ on his first try over 3m1f.

He’s gone up 13lbs for that triumph, but with plenty of stamina doubts over some in this field, and others needing plenty more cut in the ground, he looks a worthy favourite.

15:50 – Ptit Zig

The staying power that Paul Nicholls’ charge showed up the Cheltenham Hill when taking the Dipper Novices Chase on New Year’s Day was an eye catching display, and if replicating that, can step out of novice company in style.

The six-year-old was known to thrown in the odd mistake over hurdles, but a switch to fences has brought out the best in him, now going four races unbeaten, with an accumulative winning distance of 37l.

Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies has expressed how he’s just “got better and better every time”, and with the potential for better ground to suit, this improving type can show his elders how it’s done.

All odds and markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.