ONLY eight runners have been declared for tomorrow’s Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot, but we are still set for a mouth watering clash with TWIST MAGIC, Petit Robin and Well Chief all standing their ground. However, Paul Nicholls’ dual Tingle Creek winner turned in a special performance at Sandown last month and if he turns up in the same form, he will be virtually impossible to beat.
Yet, the big issue is the price and whether he is value at around the 5/4 mark? He meets a really decent yardstick in the shape of Petit Robin who will chase him all the way to the line. Nicky Henderson’s runner is arguably better suited to two and a half miles, so the tiring ground will play to his strengths. The fact that AP McCoy has also been booked to ride Petit Robin is a huge negative for all Twist Magic fans as the partnership won’t lie down at any stage.
That said, I still think that Twist Magic is the better horse as he has that little bit more speed and class. I expect Ruby Walsh to ride him positively, just like Sandown, and get a nice lead from Fix The Rib. Petit Robin will be delivered to challenge in the straight, but I’m sure Twist Magic can fend him off. Our selection has been trained differently by his master handler this term and is apparently no longer spitting the dummy out at home. He is working with a renewed enthusiasm and any doubts over his ability to handle soft ground were dispelled at Sandown last time.
There was plenty of money around earlier in the week for Well Chief and the double-figure prices about David Pipe’s stable star are long gone. He is now a best-priced 5/1 with Boylesports and just cannot be recommended at those odds as a place seems all he can hope for. If you wanted to back one at a massive price each-way, then I wouldn’t put you off Fix The Rib at 20/1 with Ladbrokes. He probably lacks the class to win, but loves it at Ascot and could sneak a place if ridden with more constraint.
Elsewhere tomorrow and Donald McCain’s CLOUDY LANE will be tough to beat in the Peter Marsh Chase. He loves his local track, having already won here five times, and will relish the conditions. Nicky Henderson has an embarrassment of riches in the novice hurdle division and his GENERAL MILLER should take the opener. He’s already beaten the smart Ghizao at Cheltenham and should play a serious part in the Supreme Novices at the Festival.
Paul Nicholls has made a habit of plundering the big Irish prizes and he can land Sunday’s Irish Arkle with mudlark TAKE THE BREEZE. He’ll be ridden aggressively from the front and I make him my best bet of the weekend at around 2.65 on Betdaq. He is bound to trade a lot shorter in play as I expect him to open up a healthy advantage early on. SOLWHIT looks hard to oppose in the Irish Champion Hurdle an hour later and can be backed at 5/6 with most firms.
GENERAL MILLEr 1.10pm Haydock, tomorrow
TWIST MAGIC 2.40pm Ascot, tomorrow
CLOUDY LANE 3.30pm Haydock, tomorrow
TAKE THE BREEZE 1.45pm Leopardstown, Sunday
SOLWHIt 2.45pm Leopardstown, Sunday