Ascot plays host to a mouth-watering clash between Betway Champion Chase hopefuls Un De Sceaux and Sire De Grugy in Saturday's Sodexo Clarence House Chase (3.00pm).
Some bookmakers go as short as 4/7 about the former who is on the comeback trail after falling on his seasonal reappearance at Leopardstown.
It seems strange to have slight reservations about last season’s Arkle winner, who has won 13 of his 15 races under rules, but his exuberant running style always leaves him open to jumping errors.
As for Sire De Grugy, he has looked rejuvenated this campaign and might have claimed Sprinter Sacre’s scalp at Kempton over Christmas but for a mistake at the last.
Trainer Gary Moore reports that he is in the form of his life and he looks certain to be the one to pick up the pieces should Un De Sceaux fluff his lines.
In all honesty, this is a race to savour rather than one in which to get financially involved.
There’s a competitive handicap chase later on the Ascot card (3.35pm) and I’m going to side with SALUBRIOUS who could be very well-handicapped off a mark of just 146.
Paul Nicholls has his team in better order than they were last month and the ground will also hold no fears. He looks a decent proposition at around 5/1.
The Holloways Handicap Hurdle (2.25pm) looks a very tricky puzzle to solve, but I’m prepared to take an each-way chance on 33/1 shot EBONY EXPRESS.
Last year’s Imperial Cup winner hasn’t shown much sign of life yet this campaign, but was very well-backed at Sandown two starts back.
Charlie Hammond looks set to take off a valuable 10lb, which means my selection will effectively line up off an 8lb lower mark than when winning at Sandown.
Ebony Express e/w, 2.25pm, Ascot
Salubrious, 3.35pm, Ascot