Turf Talk - Top weight should prove no obstacle for Espoir De Guye at Ascot
Venetia Williams’ six-year-old must carry top weight but ought to be up to it, on the balance of his very useful form last season.
That included back-to-back victories at Exeter and over this course, following a highly-promising second on chase debut behind subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Simply The Betts. Espoir De Guye’s performance that day came over an inadequate two miles at Chepstow, and demonstrated - like so many from Williams’ yard - that he is capable of running to his best first time out.
He ended his campaign at the Festival in March, when pulling up behind Imperial Aura, but ran well for a long way in that highly competitive Listed handicap company too.
He has since had a wind operation and is expected to improve again after just eight career starts.
Chantry House has clear-cut claims in the Safer Gambling Week Novices’ Chase.
A point-to-point winner back in 2018, the six-year-old was snapped up by JP McManus for £295,000 following that victory - but he did not actually appear in the green and gold until the following March, when he saw off Edwardstone in a quality bumper at Warwick.
Sent over hurdles last term, Nicky Henderson gave him just two novice runs - winning both - before ratcheting him up in class for the Supreme at the Festival.
He found stablemate Shishkin and runner-up Abacadabras too good there, but his 11-length third marked him as an exciting chase prospect, particularly when stepped up in trip.
Henderson duly kicks off over two miles and three furlongs here, and Chantry House is surely the one to beat in a select three-runner field.
The Seven Barrows handler and McManus also take the wraps off another potential top-class chaser in Birchdale, who runs in Catterick’s Watch RacingTV With Free Trial Now Beginners’ Chase.
He is having a second crack at fences, having disappointed on his only attempt last term, when hammered by stablemate Angels Breath at Ascot.
Henderson went back over hurdles after that defeat, finishing eighth in the Coral Cup - but if he has brushed up his jumping, Birchdale should make a better fist of it this time around.
Antunes can get off the mark over fences in the Sort Out Your Christmas At oldgoldracing.com Intermediate Chase, at Chepstow.
Dan Skelton’s charge was fairly useful over hurdles, boasting a mark of 134 at his peak, but he had to settle for second on his initial chase outing at Bangor last month.
Returning from a 269-day break, he put in a solid round of jumping to be beaten two and a quarter lengths by the more experienced Good Boy Bobby - who had proved up to the task against some really decent opposition as a novice.
Antunes looks a promising type, and this could be a good opportunity to put a confidence-boosting win on the board.
Champagnesuperover disappointed at Stratford recently, but can get back on the right track in the Get Your Heart Racing This Christmas Maiden Hurdle.
A winner on his bumper debut back in January, Champagnesuperover ran well enough in Listed company in that sphere before Olly Murphy wasted little time in getting him over obstacles this term.
Sent off an odds-on favourite on his initial outing, the five-year-old perhaps just needed the run as he travelled well throughout, but found little for pressure after the last.
He can be given another chance here.
Annandale triumphed over 10 furlongs on turf at Bath last month, but should not be discounted back at a mile in the Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Nursery Handicap at Newcastle.
He took that novice event in decent fashion - but given it was a fairly sedate early pace, he may not be an out-and-out stayer just yet.
ASCOT: 12.20 Chantry House (next best), 12.55 Danny Kirwan, 1.30 Metier, 2.05 ESPOIR DE GUYE (NAP), 2.40 Rosie And Millie, 3.15 Mr Muldoon, 3.45 Tide Times.
CATTERICK: 12.05 Mamoo, 12.38 Gold Desert, 1.13 Getaway North, 1.48 Birchdale, 2.23 Penpal, 2.58 Ask Paddy, 3.33 Killane.
CHEPSTOW: 12.30 Calvario, 1.05 Antunes, 1.40 Kapga De Lily, 2.15 Piggy Winkle, 2.50 Enzo D’Airy, 3.25 Champagnesuperover, 4.00 Frisco Bay.
NEWCASTLE: 4.15 Anif, 4.45 Perfect Swiss, 5.15 Annandale, 5.45 Tributo, 6.15 Clever Candy, 6.45 Fauvette, 7.15 Nibras Again, 7.45 Klopp, 8.15 Arcavallo.