Calling back into the fray at Ascot
Views from connections ahead of Saturday's Byrne Group Handicap Chase at Ascot.
Charlie Longsdon: Trains Germany Calling
Charlie Longsdon has cancelled Germany Calling's holiday so he can run in the Byrne Group Handicap Chase at Ascot.
After the seven-year-old won at Bangor last month, the intention was to give him a lengthy break and bring him back in the spring.
However, the extended dry spell has seen the Chipping Norton handler bring the good-ground specialist back out of the field to have a crack at the £60,000 pot.
"It was nice to get a win into him last time out and that was supposed to be him for the time being," said Longsdon.
"However, as there has literally been no rain I've been tempted in to bringing him back in and this has been the plan.
"Two miles might just be on the sharp side for him but he'll love the ground.
"Essentially, he's a summer horse but he gets very little chance to run for #60,000 and whereas the ground will be quick enough for some, he'll love it.
"It's not the strongest two-mile handicap there's ever been at Ascot and I think he must have an each-way chance.
"He had three weeks in the field and he shouldn't have lost much fitness.
"If anything, it should have freshened him up."
Another horse not used to running for such good prize-money is the Tom George-trained Noche De Reyes.
The Ludlow specialist is not sighted often at this time of year but, like Longsdon, George has been tempted to roll the dice once more with conditions in his favour.
"He's a real strong traveller – they can't go fast enough for him – so this race should suit," said the Slad handler.
"He likes good ground and he did well at Ludlow through the summer where he is almost guaranteed to get his ground.
"Normally we wouldn't have considered a race like this because the ground would have gone for him, but it's in his favour.
"In past years we'd have been punching above our weight in a race like this but looking at the race this year I don't really think we are. I persuaded the owners it was worth bringing him back out again quickly as there's good money on offer."
John Spearing's Pearls Legend was second to Cold March in this race 12 months ago and he is back to go one better.
While the winner subsequently struggled off his higher rating, Pearls Legend ran several more good races, including when fifth in the Grand Annual at the Festival.
"He's got a chance, I suppose, and he ran well in it last year," said Spearing.
"He went well fresh last year so we're trying it again. He's off a higher mark than last year but he ran well off an even higher one at Sandown so it's not beyond him.
"Ground doesn't matter, he goes on good and soft. Fingers crossed he'll run well."
Top weight is Ben Case's Croco Bay, a faller at Cheltenham last weekend, while Paul Nicholls runs Ulck Du Lin.
Last-time-out winner Roman Flight and Miss Tenacious represent David Dennis and Ron Hodges respectively, with Yorkist having his first run for Dan Skelton since leaving Micky Hammond.
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