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2022 Betfair Ascot Chase
The Betfair-sponsored Ascot Chase is one of the most prestigious horse racing steeplechases outside of the Cheltenham Festival, with a roll of honour to match its reputation.
Legends of the sport such as Kauto Star, Monet’s Garden and Cue Card have all landed this Grade 1 showpiece in recent years while Cyrname, at one point the world’s highest-rated chaser, was imperious in 2019.
Only the classiest of chasers can win an Ascot Chase, so much so that the race’s winners often go on to compete and run well in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham the following month.
Run over an extended two miles and five furlongs, Ascot Chase runners have to face a total of 17 obstacles, including three open ditches.
The 2022 Betfair Ascot Chase will be the focal point of ITV’s Saturday racing coverage.
2022 Betfair Ascot Chase - Big Race Details
Date: Saturday, February 19th
Status: Grade 1
Distance: 2m 5f
Prize fund: £150,000 (£85,425 to the winner)
Live on: ITV4 and Sky Sports Racing at 3.35pm
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2022 Betfair Ascot Chase - Key Ten-Year-Trends
- All about the top of the market: The Ascot Chase has been dominated by horses high up the betting, so much so that no horse bigger than 4/1 has been successful in the last decade. Six favourites have gone in during that period.
- Clockwise counter: Every winner of the Betfair Ascot Chase in the last decade had already been successful on a right-handed track.
- Double trouble: Cue Card is the only horse to complete an Ascot Chase double in the last decade, although his two wins were separated by four years.
- Nicholls factor: No trainer has won the Ascot Chase more times than Paul Nicholls, with two of his four victories coming in the last ten years.
- Beware the headgear: Tongue-tie’s are more commonplace on Ascot Chase winners, but 2016 hero Silviniaco Conti (blinkers) is the only horse to sport headgear in victory.
- Elders struggle: Only one horse older than ten (Cue Card, 2017) has won the Ascot Chase this century.
- Avoid out-and-out stayers: No horse that has won beyond 3m 2.5f has been successful in the Ascot Chase this century.
Paul Nicholls is the main man in this race having won it four times, most recently with Cyrname in 2019.
Colin Tizzard is the only other trainer to win it twice in the last decade but Nicky Henderson has won the race three times in all, most recently with two-time winner Riverside Theatre (2011 and 2012).
Irish trainers don’t tend to target this race but there have been a handful of Irish runners in the last decade, none of which have managed to win it.
Barry Geraghty is the race’s winning-most jockey with three victories but no modern-day rider has won the race more than once.
The likes of Harry Cobden, Sam Twiston-Davies and Paddy Brennan are all on the honours board though.
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2022 Betfair Ascot Chase - Main Contenders
There may only be one representative from Ireland, but Fakir D’oudairies is a hugely significant runner if Joseph O’Brien decides to let his two-time Grade 1 winner take his chance.
A runaway winner of the Melling Chase at last year’s Aintree Festival, Fakir D’oudairies pretty much lost all chance of giving Allaho a race at Thurles last month when he made a complete mess of the first fence. He’s a sound jumper in the main so that isn’t a major concern going forward.
We know this horse travels well because he’s run with huge credit at the last three Cheltenham Festivals and he’s won at tracks like Clonmel and Fairyhouse so we know he’s fully effective on a right-handed circuit.
With a mark of 164, he’s the highest-rated runner in the line-up and his credentials are hard to knock.
Dashel Drasher won the 2021 edition of the Betfair Ascot Chase so we know this test suits him but that became a substandard renewal after red-hot favourite Cyrname was pulled up and so there is no doubt that he has more on his plate this time.
Five of his seven rivals are rated superior according to official ratings and he had quite a hard race when narrowly beaten at Lingfield’s valuable meeting last month.
Fanion D’Estruval has no chance of beating Fakir D’oudairies on the respective performances behind Allaho in last year’s Ryanair Chase but the Venetia Williams-trained 7-year-old didn’t do himself justice that day, on ground that would have been lively enough, and this 10/3 chance looks certain to make a bold bid under these more suitable conditions.
He posted a fine weight carrying performance in handicap company at Ascot last month, only losing out to the progressive Phoenix Way who was carrying 15lb less than the runner-up on the day.
If Fanion D’Estruval is going to land a Grade 1, the Betfair Ascot Chase is likely to be the one because this trip, on a right handed track and on soft ground are his ideal conditions and he represents a stable that can’t put a foot wrong this winter.
Saint Calvados looks a big danger for a yard whose runners have to be feared. Saint Calvados only joined Paul Nicholls in November but he’s already posted a big effort for the 12-time champion trainer courtesy of a third place in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.
He is versatile trip-wise but he stays this 2m5f well and he confirmed last time that he goes well right-handed.
That King George run was his first after a wind operation so he might just be ready to step up on that, in which case he’s a major player.
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2022 Betfair Ascot Chase - Betting tips
This looks trappy. Fakir D’Oudairies looks just about the one to beat but with Venetia Williams having such a great season, this might just be the right moment for Fanion D’Estruval to open his Grade 1 account.
He’s got his conditions and his highly creditable second in handicap company at the Berkshire venue earned a Racing Post Rating of 169, which is the same as the number generated by the Dashel Drasher when he won this race 12 months ago.
Current UK bookmaker odds - 11/4 Saint Calvados, 10/3 Fakir D’oudairies, Fanion D’Estruval, 7/2 Mister Fisher, 9/2 Dashel Drasher, 10 Lostintranslation, 14 Waiting Patiently, Two For Gold.
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2022 Betfair Ascot Chase - Last Ten Winners
2021 Dashel Drasher 4/1 Trainer: Jeremy Scott, Jockey: Matt Griffiths
2020 Riders Onthe Storm 7/2 Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies, Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
2019 Cyrname 3/1 Trainer: Paul Nicholls, Jockey: Harry Cobden
2018 Waiting Patiently 2/1F Trainer: Ruth Jefferson, Jockey: Brian Hughes
2017 Cue Card 4/9F Trainer: Trainer: Colin Tizzard, Jockey: Paddy Brennan
2016 Silviniaco Conti 2/1F Trainer: Paul Nicholls, Jockey: Noel Fehily
2015 Balder Succes 4/1 Trainer: Alan King Jockey: Wayne Hutchinson
2014 Captain Chris 8/11F Trainer: Philip Hobbs, Jockey: Richard Johnson
2013 Cue Card 15/8F Trainer: Colin Tizzard, Jockey: Joe Tizzard
2012 Riverside Theatre 13/8F Trainer: Nicky Henderson, Jockey: Barry Geraghty