1965 Chase Tips: Imperial Aura to outclass rivals at Ascot

1965 Chase Tips: Imperial Aura is the one to beat on Saturday.
1965 Chase Tips: Imperial Aura is the one to beat on Saturday.

Steve Chambers previews Saturday's 1965 Chase at Ascot, which could provide some notable clues for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival...

We may only be treated to four horses lining up in the Grade 2 1965 Chase, but the declared quartet should serve up an interesting spectacle at Ascot with some potential Ryanair Chase clues emerging from the 2m 5f 8y contest.

Kim Bailey's Imperial Aura heads to the Berkshire racecourse in the form of his life, as having won impressively at the Cheltenham Festival in March, he then kicked off the season with a fine victory at Carlisle, which saw him trimmed to 16/1 for the abovementioned Ryanair Chase. A three-and-three quarter length winner of the Novices' Handicap Chase at the festival in March, Imperial Aura continued his progression with his first outing this season winning that Listed event at Carlisle, and he will now step into Graded company for the first time.

In his ten career runs, Imperial Aura has not been out of the first three, so he is a real model of consistency and with progression likely to come as the season goes on, the seven-year-old will certainly set the standard here. A winner in good, soft and heavy ground, underfoot conditions shouldn't pose any problems and having shown that Saturday's trip appears to be ideal, then Bailey's raider can continue to blossom over fences and land Saturday's prize. A smart jumper for a relatively inexperienced chaser, Imperial Aura has a lot of positives to his name, and of the four runners he is the one that could turn into a real smart performer over the larger obstacles over the next few seasons, and Saturday's event can prove to be his first Graded win.

With the likes of Albertas Run and Vautour having won the 1965 Chase before going to land Ryanair Chase glory, Imperial Aura will be hoping to emulate those Grade 1 superstars, and with the Ryanair market so wide open (8/1 the field) then Bailey's charge can make it three wins on the bounce, and duly propel up the Ryanair Chase betting.

1965 Chase
Imperial Aura silk

Imperial Aura

won

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Paul Nicholls has a sensational record in the 1965 Chase having trained six of the last ten winners and the Ditcheat handler will unleash a dual-pronged attack at Saturday's race, and both contenders stand a notable chance of tasting victory.

The Nicholls challenge will be spearheaded by Real Steel, who will be making his first start for the Nicholls team after a summer switch from Willie Mullins' yard. Last seen running an absolute storming race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he finished sixth, Real Steel was just outstayed by some classy adversaries in the Grade 1 showpiece at the Cheltenham Festival, so a drop back in trip could prove ideal. Having travelled serenely through the Gold Cup, Real Steel just tired in the closing stages, but a repeat of that effort should see him land a significant blow here.

Two Grade 2 victories in Ireland last season show that he can produce the goods at this level, but he will be giving 2 lb away to Imperial Aura and that could prove the difference with both likely to be in contention jumping the last fence. While Imperial Aura will be producing his best work in the closing stages, Real Steel may just be running low on the petrol gauge, so with that in mind it's the more progressive Imperial Aura that can win the clash between the fancied duo.

Black Corton will be the second contender for Nicholls and the experienced campaigner will be hoping to build on a decent fourth placed finish in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot last month. Venturing out of the handicap sphere for this Graded event, Black Corton has become a real model of consistency and hasn't been out of the top four in his last six outings, but in that sextet of runs he's failed to get his head in front, so it's unlikely he can get that elusive victory here.

On his five visits to Ascot, Black Corton has only won once, but he will have the benefit here of receiving weight from all his rivals in Saturday's contest, so that should aid his chances. However, while the rest of rivals still have potential improvement, Black Corton has reached a ceiling in his career, and its hard to see him producing a performance worthy of landing this prize, so he is the least likely winner.

Olly Murphy's Itchy Feet completes the four-strong line-up and the six-year-old will be looking to bounce back from a below-par run in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last time out. A really smart novice chaser, who was a fine winner of the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown Park last season, Itchy Feet then unseated his rider when well fancied for the Marsh Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Sent off favourite for the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase at Aintree, Itchy Feet could only finish third behind Nuts Well and Clondaw Castle, and he will need to come on from that run to stand a chance against a race-fit Imperial Aura and a classy opponent in the shape of Real Steel. In both his previous seasons, Itchy Feet has tasted defeat on his first start of the season before winning next time up, so that certainly gives a glimmer of hope, but he will need to jump more slickly here, if he is to land a significant blow.

With wins over 2m 4f, stamina shouldn't prove an issue, but this is arguably a tougher test than that Old Roan, and while he will receive a tiny weight advantage from Imperial Aura and Reel Steal, he could prove to just lack the ability the fancied pair have, and may have to settle for the minor honours.

We may only have four contesting this event, but the betting is wide open with all four looking to stand a notable chance, but it's Imperial Aura that has the most potential to become a top class Grade 1 performer, and Kim Bailey's star can continue his development and land this event in style.

Selection:

Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase, Ascot, Saturday 21st November - back Imperial Aura at 15/8

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