Bet365 Handicap Chase Preview

Last updated: January 17, 2020 by Leon Marshal

The 3.00 race at Ascot on Saturday is the £75,000 Bet365 Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs. Last year the race was won in spectacular style by the front-running Cyrname for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden. He followed up in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase and ended Altior’s unbeaten run back here last November. There is unlikely to be anything of his calibre in Saturday’s line-up but a competitive race is guaranteed.

Horses running

Happy Diva prominent in Ascot betting

Kerry Lee’s admirably consistent Happy Diva is towards the top of the market. The nine-year-old mare won the valuable BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November. She was then caught on the post by Lady Buttons in the Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase at Doncaster. Happy Diva could not live with Cyrname in the corresponding race last season, eventually weakening to finish a remote third. She races off a 7lbs higher mark on Saturday.

The ante-post favourite is Espoir De Guye, a six-year-old gelding trained by Venetia Williams. He has improved with each race this season, finishing second at Chepstow before victories at Exeter and Ascot. His most recent win over two miles and three furlongs was particularly impressive, beating My Way by 10 lengths after being eased down. The handicapper has taken a dim view of that victory and put him up a stone.

Domaine De L’Isle is also seeking a hat-trick after victories at Chepstow and Newcastle. He is a son of Network trained by Sean Curran and won with a bit in hand last time from Sam’s Adventure. He was up 10lbs that day and has gone up by the same margin for his hat-trick bid. Bennys King won like an improving animal at Newbury in November when beating Sametegal by six lengths. He was never really travelling in the Grade 3 Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby last time, eventually finishing fifth to Top Ville Ben.

Kildisart tops the weights in Bet365 Chase

Tom George saddles Clondaw Castle, well beaten behind Warthog in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. He had previously run well here behind Diego Du Charmil over an extended two miles but doubts persist about his staying further.

The weights are headed by Kildisart, trained by Ben Pauling. The eight-year-old is not the biggest chaser in training but defied 11st 12lbs to win a Grade 3 at Aintree in April. That has left him on a difficult handicap mark and he has struggled both here and at Carlisle so far this season.

Highway One O One ran his best race for some time when a close third to Just A Sting at Kempton in December. His jumping is not always that fluent, as illustrated when unseating his rider at Cheltenham in November. He has gone up 2lbs for his Kempton run but should still be competitive.

Flying Angel won well over course and distance in November and started favourite for the Grand Sefton Chase over the Grand National fences. The grey finished a one-paced fourth at Aintree but should be happier back over this course.

Sam’s Adventure looked threatening 3 out at Newcastle but was left trailing by Domaine De L’Ilse in the closing stages. He enjoys an 8lbs pull in the weights and this shorter trip could also help him. The Philip Hobbs-trained Springtown Lake and Kayf Adventure finished second and fourth respectively behind Tiquer at Chepstow in heavy ground.

Betting Tips

Espoir de Guye @4-1 at bet365

Domaine de L’Isle @13-2

Highway One O One @12-1

Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4

The Bet365 Handicap Chase is due off at 3.00 at Ascot on Saturday 18th January and will be televised live on ITV4.