3.35 Ascot - Saturday 17th February
- All of the last 10 winners had their last run in a Class 1 non-handicap race over 2m3f - 3 miles
- All of the last 10 winners had been rested at least 31 days since their last run
- All of the last 10 winners were rated 162+
- All of the last 10 winners returned 11/2 or shorter
- 9 of the last 10 winners had a top 2 finish in at least 1 of their last two runs (10/10 Top 3)
- 9 of the last 11 winners had their last race at Kempton
- 8 winners since 1997 have been 10yo+
Nicky Henderson has 3 winners and 3 places from 13 runners in the race
Paul Nicholls has won the race 3 times and had 2 further places from his 20 runners
Colin Tizzard is 2 winners from just 4 runners
9 winners since 1997 had contested the King George on their last start but only outsider Traffic Fluide in this year's field comes here from that race.
The other 2 winners of this race coming on from Kempton had contested the Listed Chase on the second Saturday of January. Just 3 horses have gone down that route but they have finished 1-1-5 in the Ascot Chase. This years race was won by Waiting Patiently
CONEY ISLAND - Second in a Grade 1 Hurdle at the 2016 Punchestown Festival he began the 2016-17 Season novice chasing and got off to a great start winning a Grade 1 on his second start and then just getting caught by Our Duke on his next run. Injury meant he missed the Spring Festivals but he came back to the track just before Christmas when romping home at Ascot in a 3 runner Graduation Chase. Looking at the ratings for that race he was fully entitled to win as easy as he did and with the runner up getting well beaten next time I don't think the performance was as good as it looked at the time. It was however his first run back from a near 12 month absence and his novice form means we have to take him very seriously.
CUE CARD - He's been an amazing servant for connections over the years and has amassed over a £million in his career to date but at 12yo age might just be catching up with him. He won this race last year by 15 lengths but it was nowhere near as classy a renewal as we have this year and it will be asking a lot for him to be competitive on the back of his 57 length drubbing by Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase.
FRODON - A decent novice chaser who won a big open handicap at Cheltenham on just his 5th start over fences and won a Grade 2 novice chase at Kempton later that Season. He's had some tough tasks this Season including running against Might Bite off level weights (8 length second) and Top Notch giving him 1lb (10 length 3rd). Bryony Frost has ridden him in handicaps on his last two starts where he ran 2nd to Gold Present at Ascot and then stormed home in a handicap on Cheltenham Trials Day by 17 lengths. That was a clear career best and he now sits on a rating of 164 which puts him right amongst the best of these. Bryony Frost keeps the ride although she is unable to use her claim here but she rides as well as any professional and has proved on numerous occasions to be up to the job. The big obstacle to his chances is the 10 lengths he has to find with Top Notch on their meeting at the end of last November.
SPEREDEK - After pulling up in two handicap chases in December and January in 2016/17 something finally clicked with Speredek and he has done nothing but improve in the last 12 months. He rattled up a hat-trick at the end of last Season in class 4, class 3 and then class 2 going from a rating of 115 to 129. His trainer switched him back to hurdles for the start of this season where he won and finished second before heading back over fences. An 8 length win off 135 looked a decent performance but he surpassed that next time out when running a 7 length second to Un De Sceaux in the Grade 1 Clarence House. Not bad for a horse who had been rated 122 just 12 months earlier. He's been put up to 154 which leaves him with about 10lb to find with the best of these but it's hard to say if he's stopped improving yet and he's bound to give it his all from the front.
TOP NOTCH - Top class novice chaser who made it 4 on the bounce when taking the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown last February. He followed up that win with a second place finish to Yorkhill in the JLT Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but couldn't match that form at Aintree when only 3rd in the Manifesto Chase (Frodon 40 lengths behind in 5th). He was no match for Youknowhatimeanharry when beginning this Season over hurdles but back over fences he's 2 from 2. An 8 length beating of subsequent King George runner up Double Shuffle in the Grade 2 1965 Ascot Chase (Frodon 10 lengths back in third) was followed by a comfortable win from stablemate Josses Hill in the rescheduled Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Taunton. Big chance.
TRAFFIC FLUIDE - After winning a couple of lowly handicaps in February and March of 2015 he's been very highly tried since having run his last 10 races in Grade 1 or Grade 2 company. That hasn't gone too well with just the odd placed finish here and there and he has now slipped to a rating of 151. He's been well beaten in three big chases this Season and it's difficult to make a case for him winning here.
WAITING PATIENTLY - Got off the mark over hurdles on his third start for Kevin Reverley before switching to the Jefferson stable. He made his debut over fences in novice handicap company where from a rating of just 122 he won easily by 7 lengths. Next seen in a standard novice chase he beat the decent Forest Bihan by over 2 lengths earning him a hike in class to contest a Grade 2 Novice Chase at Haydock in January 2017. He stayed on well to account for the top class Politologue by just over a length but that was all we saw of him until he began this Season in a Listed intermediate chase at Carlisle where he travelled well and was pushed out for a comfortable win. He faced his biggest test on his next start when running in a Listed chase at Kempton against some highly rated rivals but came through that with no problems as he won easily by 8 lengths. Unbeaten over fences and rated with the best of these he's another with a big chance.
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