Five weekend eyecatchers
Ian Ogg picks out five horses for your My Stable trackers that caught his eye during the weekend action.
Tea For Two shaped well on his reappearance
You can take your pick of the eyecatchers from Ascot's feature handicap hurdle as a host of horses paid the price for not covering the moves of Sternrubin and Instant Karma and Modus will be high on the list. Patiently ridden by Harry Cobden, he didn't have the clearest of runs through and was only beaten little more than half a length despite losing momentum with a mistake at the last. The race was definitely one that got away and it will be interesting to see if Paul Nicholls' six-year-old can hold his form through the season this time but don't give up on fifth home Ch'tibello either. He was remarkably easy to back given his good form in the spring suggesting this return may have been needed and he ran well enough in just losing out for minor honours to think that there is a little more left in the tank. He could be a big player in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.
Although Crimson Ark was pulled up in the Ascot Underwriting Chase (click on the race name to watch the video replay) there will be other days for the winning pointer. The market clearly expected a big run from the six-year-old on his chasing debut but he was found out by a lack of experience, making a bad mistake five from home. That was obviously too far out to know how he would have fared but he ran an excellent race over hurdles at Chepstow on his penultimate start and shaped perfectly well up until his mistake.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has his string in terrific form at present and there should be more to come from Scotchtown after his winning debut over obstacles in the AMT Vehicle Rental Leeds 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Wetherby on Friday. He looked a real stayer when fourth in a Newton Abbot bumper on his Rules debut (the third won a bumper next time to boost the form) and should continue to improve once faced with a stiffer test. There's room for improvement in his hurdling as well which bodes well, assuming he does get his act together of course. The race may not have taken much winning with the odds-on favourite disappointing but that may lead to the four-year-old being underestimated in the near future.
On the same card, Mick Easterby's 10-year-old did well to finish third in the feature bet365 Handicap Chase at 33/1. The race was run in a relatively slow time given the conditions which wouldn't have suited this hold-up performer who looks ready to strike while conditions remain in his favour (has won on heavy but most of his form has come on top of the ground). His last win came in the same race in 2014 from a mark of 131 (he was put up 8lbs subsequently) and he may be back on that perch if the handicapper nudges him up from 130 for this performance but either way, he certainly retains the ability to win again.
Antony was a revelation in the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase but supporters of third home Saphir Du Rheu and fifth home Tea For Two shouldn't lose heard just yet. The Hennessy Gold Cup is surely the primary aim for both runners and both did enough to keep their hopes for that race alive, even if they didn't exactly enhance them. Tea For Two raced a shade exuberantly on his seasonal reappearance on ground that would have been plenty quick enough and it was no surprise that he weakened out of contention in the straight. This run will have blown away the cobwebs and the seven-year-old Kayf Tara gelding looks set for another profitable season.
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