The Ascot Chase (Saturday 16 February) is one of two grade one jumps races held at Ascot Racecourse each season and it traditionally attracts a top-class field. The first edition in 1995 was won by Martha’s Son, whilst the likes of One Man, Kauto Star, Monet’s Garden, Voy Por Ustedes, Cue Card, and Silvinicao Conti are other multiple grade one winning chasers that have added their names to an illustrious roll of honour.
The Betfair Ascot Chase, as it is known for sponsorship reasons, takes place over 2 miles and 5 furlongs and 8 yards. It is a race that is often run at a fast pace, so the 17 stiff fences ask plenty of questions of a horse’s jumping abilities.
Ascot Chase Trends
Age has not proved a barrier to success in the Ascot Chase in the last decade, with winners being aged as young as seven and as old as 12. However, winners tend to have class in abundance and even the lowest-rated winner in the last 10 years was rated 162, whilst the highest-rated winner won off a mark of 172.
A first prize of over £85,000 ensures this race will be on the agenda of any top-class horse that is ideally suited by this test. So, it’s no surprise that favourites have an excellent record in the race, with eight of the last 10 collecting the first prize. Even when the favourite doesn’t win, it rarely pays to look beyond the first few horses in the market, with the highest SP of any winner in the last 10 years being 11/2.
Trainers that have experienced success in this race in the last 10 years include Paul Nicholls and Colin Tizzard, whilst Ruth Jefferson is again targeting last year’s winner Waiting Patiently at the prize.
Ascot Chase 2019 Runner-By-Runner Guide
Impressive in every department when winning last year’s renewal but has raced just once since that success when hampered and unseating in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Last year’s win earned him a mark of 170, which is a mark that only three of the last 10 winners were rated equal to or higher than. It also makes him the top-rated horse in this year’s renewal. Apart from his lack of appearances this season, it’s hard to find fault with him as he travels easily off any pace and jumps brilliantly. After just seven runs over fences, he’s also the least experienced chaser in the field, so he could easily still have the most improvement to come.
The youngest horse in the field this year at the age of seven but four of the last eight winners have also been that age. With nine chases under his belt, he’s also only slightly more experienced over fences than Waiting Patiently. The fact that he has lost five of those chases would suggest he’s more exposed than his main market rival but, having put up a career-best performance by some way last time, it could be that he’s just reaching his peak. That performance also came over course and distance so he could be primed to go well, especially as he looks the only likely front-runner in the line-up. He’s also the choice of Harry Cobden from the two runners from the Paul Nicholls stable, and Cobden got it right when faced with a similar scenario in the King George VI Chase.
Cobden’s decision to ride Cyrname is an interesting one, as he’s turned down the chance to ride the proven grade one winning chaser Politologue, despite Cyrname being currently rated 3lb inferior to his stablemate. Politologue also has a perfect two from two record over course and distance and only relinquished a 100% record on right-handed courses when failing to stay in the King George. Cobden’s decision may be based on the fact Politologue was beaten by Waiting Patiently the only time they’ve met before and, after 18 chases, he may not have the same potential for improvement as Cyrname or Waiting Patiently.
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The handicapper has this Colin Tizzard trained nine-year-old on a mark of 166 but he has been rated as high as 169. He also has some top-class form in the book including when just touched off by Special Tiara in the 2017 Champion Chase and when winning at the 2019 Punchestown Festival. However, the run of his career that could make him interesting here is his win over two and a half miles in the 2017 Melling Chase, which suggests he too has untapped potential at this trip. That means he can’t be dismissed, but he does still have something to prove after being injured in the 2017 King George, whilst he was never in with a chance of winning behind Altior on his return from injury.
Likeable sort who was in the form of his life on his first three runs this season, which included a win in the grade two Peterborough Chase. However, he has been beaten half a length over course and distance by Politologue, in receipt of 6lb, and it’s hard to see him reversing that form after running below expectations at Kempton last time. Rated 161.
Rated 163 after an impressive handicap win off top-weight at Cheltenham last time, but the balance of his form suggests he’ll struggle to win a race like this unless he thrives for his first experience of Ascot. But he does like to race near the pace and should help keep the others honest.
Ascot Chase 2019 Summary
The four horse at the head of the market are all rated within 5lb of each other. Politologue and Fox Norton certainly deserve their place in the line-up but may be vulnerable to Waiting Patiently and Cyrname who both have more potential for improvement. However, with Cyrname’s recent improvement coming in a handicap, Waiting Patiently is taken to win a second Ascot Chase.
Ascot Chase 2019 Tip
Waiting Patiently @ 2.88 Betfred and Totesport