The Berkshire Community Foundation Clarence House Chase (Saturday 3.00) is Ascot’s main attraction, and the 2-mile 1-furling grade-1 chase has attracted the last two winners in Un Des Sceaux and Dodging Bullets, as well as an interesting supporting cast.
Winners in the last decade have been aged between 6 and 8, whilst Paul Nicholls has trained 4 of the last 8 winners, and Ruby Walsh has ridden 3 of the last 8.
6 runners are set to go to post for the 2017 Berkshire Community Foundation Clarence House Chase.
Ar Mad 5/2
Highly-regarded runner from the Gary Moore stable who won this in 2014 with Sire Du Grugy, and Moore stated he thought this horse would be better than his more famous stablemate by the end of the season. Has 6lb to find with Un Des Sceaux on official ratings, but has the right to still be improving at the age of 7. Tends to set-off in front, get outpaced and then rally late – and looks sure to give the favourite something to think about.
Dodging Bullets 33/1
Beat Sprinter Sacre in the 2015 renewal before going on to win that season’s Champion Chase, but hasn’t been anywhere near that form since. Rated 171 at his peak, but his current rating of 157 seems a fair reflection of his chances on his 3 runs this season, unless master trainer Paul Nicholls has worked wonders since we last saw him in December.
The 11-year-old is arguably getting better with age, and his win off a mark of 148 last time was his best run yet. Now up to 154, but hard to envisage him suddenly turning from handicapper to grade-1 winner, even if he is a course and distance winner
Royal Regatta 20/1
Loves Ascot but, though he’s won over this course and distance, his best form is over further, such as when winning the Stella Artois last time over 21-furlongs. Had good horses behind that day in the shape of Gods Own and the pulled-up Dodging Bullets, but will find it hard to adopt his preferred front-running tactics against two trailblazers like Ar Mad and Un Des Sceaux.
Top Gamble 16/1
Likes small fields and soft ground, and rated just 10lb below Un Des Sceaux after winning two grade-2 chases in February and March last year, accounting for Dodging Bullets in the first of those. Interesting that he likes to be held-up and, should the others cut each-others’ throats up front, master hold-up jockry Davy Russell could pick-up the pieces.
Un Des Sceaux 4/5
Sprinter Sacre remains the only horse to have beaten him over fences, and his 5-length defeat of Sire Du Grugy in last year’s contest was very impressive. He relished the soft ground then, and is Champion Chase class on that sort of ground, which he’s forecast to get again.
Berkshire Community Foundation Clarence House Chase Summary
Un Des Sceaux is top-rated and should prove very hard to beat, though he’ll be the oldest winner since 2006 at the age of 9. That gives hope that the 7-year-old Ar Mad may improve past him, though the soft ground is more in the favourite’s favour. Of the others, Top Gamble is most interesting especially if the leaders take each other on – and he could be an interesting in-play bet. However, Un Des Sceaux went off 1/2 to win last year’s contest, and is fancied to go off at similar odds again this time around – so the early 4/5 may prove to be value.
Berkshire Community Foundation Clarence House Chase Tip
Un Des Sceaux @ 4/5 (Betvictor, William Hill)