Dashel Drasher is a tough horse to pass around Ascot so the fact that last year’s Ascot Chase winner is only fifth-favourite for a repeat success on Saturday is a sign of the quality of the field in this year’s renewal.
He should get a fairly easy time of it in front, however, and while Fakir D’Oudairies is a serious opponent on his Grade One-winning form at Aintree last season, Cheltenham and Liverpool may be his major targets this year.
Dashel Drasher (3.38), in contrast, has probably been working towards this race all season and Jeremy Scott’s chaser is a decent bet at around 6-1 to record the fifth course win of his career, in the final Grade One in Britain before the Festival.
Ascot 1.50 Likely favourite Does He Know and Doyen Breed both finished within a few lengths of Threeunderthrufive on their most recent starts and there may not be as much between them here as the odds suggest. Sandy Thomson’s gelding has progressed with every start over fences and has to be the bet at around 11-2.
Haydock Park 2.05 Third Wind has struggled to repeat his form when winning this race last season in three subsequent starts, which could leave the door open for Molly Ollys Wishes. Dan Skelton’s mare remains unexposed at staying trips, having taken her record to 2-2 at around three miles with a comfortable success at Ascot in January.
Ascot 2.25 Fiddlerontheroof put up a career-best over fences to finish within half a length of Cloudy Glen in the Ladbrokes Trophy in November. He is giving weight to all his rivals here but the Newbury form suggests that Colin Tizzard’s runner should be up to the task.
Haydock Park 2.40 Sam Brown was better than ever when he ran Gold Cup outsider Royale Pagaille to half a length in the Peter Marsh at this track last month. He is up just 2lb in the weights and the heavy ground will not be an issue.
Ascot 3.00 Good Risk At All could prove to be well ahead of his mark but this is a competitive handicap and odds of around 2-1 make little appeal. With most firms paying five places, Small Bad Bob is a solid each-way alternative at around 33-1, as his recent efforts at Fontwell and Fakenham are backed up by the clock.
Wincanton 3.20 The Kingwell Hurdle card is subject to a 7.30am inspection due to damage caused by Storm Eunice. Goshen will be a warm order for the feature event if it gets the go-ahead after a recent return to winning form, but the consistent Adagio produced a fine run under top weight in the Greatwood in November and could upset the favourite.