ITV Racing Tips: Fakir D’oudairies can take Ascot Chase back to Ireland
Much of the trainers’ planning for next month’s Cheltenham Festival is done but there is still time for a few horses to press their claim for the annual trip to the Cotswolds.
This weekend’s feature, the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, could offer some Ryanair Chase clues as last year’s second and fifth, Fakir D’oudairies and Fanion D’Estruval, lock horns again.
The Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton is a recognised trial for the Champion Hurdle but whatever happens is unlikely to shake the market this time.
Pending an early course inspection at Haydock on Saturday morning at 08:00, The Grand National Trial could have more ante-post relevance as a host of Aintree entries seek some match practice on Merseyside, a race which has also attracted course specialist Bristol De Mai.
It will be part of a seven-race programme covered by ITV, which comprises four races from Ascot, two from Haydock, and one from Wincanton.
The coverage begins on ITV from 13:30 and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.
This should be the type of slog that will be right up the street of the popular Bristol De Mai who has won five of his seven appearances at Haydock.
This time he is back in a handicap, the kind of company he has not kept for many a season, outside the Grand National itself. He is not entered in the Grand National this year and he could have his work cut out conceding weight to all his rivals. They include last year’s winner Lord Du Mesnil and Secret Reprieve, who won the Welsh Grand National in 2020.
The unlikely form horse is Blaklion, who at 13 has suddenly found renewed zest. Winner of the RSA Chase and Becher Chase in his younger days, he has taken time to hit his straps since joining Dan Skelton. He has won his last two races, both at Haydock, and may not have stopped yet.
After getting back to winning ways at Sandown last time, Goshen returns to the race he captured last year in his best shape for a while. It’s taken time and while he won the Contenders Hurdle by plenty, it wasn’t the most competitive renewal.
The same could be said for the Kingwell but there is a fresh candidate in Adagio. Last year’s Triumph Hurdle runner-up has been kept under wraps since finishing second in the Greatwood Hurdle in November.
There has been nothing amiss and trainer David Pipe has deliberately waited for the Kingwell with a possible crack at the Champion Hurdle in mind afterwards. The Pipe team have been past masters at readying a horse after time away, so expect their patience to be rewarded.
Dashel Drasher is one of two former winners who are among the field, the other is Waiting Patiently who took this prize four years ago.
Waiting Patiently showed little of his old spark in the Ascot Chase for his new stable, but Dashel Drasher should be a different proposition on a track where he has won four out of five. He meets two of the horses he has finished behind this season, Two For Gold and Lostintranslation, but probably has more to fear from the Irish raider Fakir D’oudairies.
Since finishing second to Allaho in last year’s Ryanair Chase, Fakir D’oudairies has taken on that rival twice more this season with the same outcome.
Last time out his chance was not helped by a horrendous blunder at the first fence which left him with plenty to do. Yet on his day he is up with the best, as he showed when landing the Melling Chase at Aintree last April. If he can avoid any serious errors, winning the Ascot Chase should be a less onerous challenge than his previous tasks.
ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday 19th February
13:50 Ascot – Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase
14:05 Haydock – Rendlesham Hurdle
14:25 Ascot – Swinley Chase
14:40 Haydock – Grand National Trial
15:00 Ascot – 2m4f handicap hurdle
15:20 Wincanton – Kingwell Hurdle
15:38 Ascot – Ascot Chase
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing