Ascot Chase Preview: Cyrname to reign supreme

Cyrname looks to enhance his winning run at Ascot on Saturday.
Cyrname looks to enhance his winning run at Ascot on Saturday.

Steve Chambers takes an in-depth look at Saturday's Grade 1 Ascot Chase, which has attracted seven entries and will see a mouth-watering duel between Cyrname and Riders Onthe Storm...

Cyrname ended last season as the highest-rated National Hunt horse in training thanks to a brace of runaway wins at Ascot. The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old then kicked off his campaign by beating the previously unbeaten chaser Altior in the Christy 1965 Chase, so a return to the Berkshire venue will see the Ditcheat star look to extend his unbeaten run at Ascot to four races.

Those three wins at Ascot have been won by an aggregate distance of over 40 lengths, but the Nickname gelding failed to deliver away from the course last time out when he was trounced by stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.

Beaten 21 lengths in the King George, Cyrname has been given a decent break to get over his Boxing Day exertions, and with such a fine record at the right-handed Ascot then it's no shock to see him installed as an odds-on favourite for Saturday's test, as he looks to retain the Ascot Chase crown, which he won by an emphatic 17 lengths last season.

While a return to his happy hunting ground will see Cyrname in his best light he will have to contend with the hugely exciting Riders Onthe Storm, who was an emphatic seven-length winner of a graduation chase in December, and the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained seven-year-old is a horse on a rapid incline and could prove to be a thorn in Cyrname's side.

Earning quotes of around 8/1 for next month's Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival following that facile Ascot win, Riders Onthe Storm has to improve again now stepped up into top-class company, and he will most likely look to track the front-running Cyrname, who will certainly set a fierce gallop from the flag fall.

Cyrname had a tough race in the King George, but ultimately struggled to see out the three-mile trip, so a drop back to his preferred distance of 2m 5f (his last three wins at Ascot have been over that distance) should see him bounce back to form. Admittedly, he may not be one to side with at the Cheltenham Festival - as he excels at right-handed tracks - but he looks to have excellent claims here, and Riders Onthe Storm may just lack that element of class to deal with the favourite.

Nicholls could be double-handed for Saturday's showpiece, and he could also unleash Frodon, who stormed to Ryanair glory at the Cheltenham Festival last season. 

Well beaten in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree and in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in his first two outings this campaign, Frodon catapulted back into the limelight by winning the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase over two and a half miles at Kempton Park last month. A 17-length third behind Waiting Patiently in the 2018 Ascot Chase, Frodon may have to play second fiddle to his stablemate Cyrname this weekend, as while he is a class act on his day this track may not suit him quite as well as Cheltenham.

Nicky Henderson last won this race in 2012 with Riverside Theatre, and the master of Seven Barrows is set to unleash a dual-pronged attack with Janika and Top Notch both entered and likely to chance their arm for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.

The former kicked off the season with a fine win the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, but has since struggled to build on that West Country success. Switching between hurdles and fences, the seven-year-old was last seen finishing fourth of five behind Defi Du Seuil in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot, and a return to that venue on Saturday isn't likely to see him back to winning ways - despite a step back up in trip.

Top Notch is another that has been seen running over both hurdles and fences so far this season, and he kicked off the season with a brace of wins at Aintree over hurdles and at Huntingdon in the Peterborough Chase. But, while he makes more appeal that his stablemate Janika he was well beaten by Frodon at Kempton last time out, and it's hard to see him reverse that form.

A former Grade 2-winning novice chaser, Saint Calvados has not kicked on from his fine novice campaign over fences and as such it's hard to see him challenge here. A winner in handicap company at Cheltenham in October, he was then unable to lay a glove on Defi Du Seuil in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase on his second start of the season. He improved last time out when second to Oldgrangewood at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, but it appears that handicaps are the way to go with him, so a return to graded company will see him struggle to make the frame.

Not seen on the track for over 450 days, Gary Moore's Traffic Fluide could return at the weekend. A winner of the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase last time he was seen at Ascot, he has won three of his last four outings. But, while he could be a potential horse to watch in the latter part of the Jumps season, it's hard to see him performing at a level to be a contender on Saturday, so that's why he is the outsider of the septet.

A fascinating renewal that will see the proven talent of Cyrname battle it out with the improving, unknown quantity in Riders Onthe Storm, but it's the former that may just bounce back to winning ways on a return to a track he has dominated at in recent times, and the Nicholls-trained raider can retain his Ascot Chase crown with aplomb.

Selection

Ascot Chase - Newbury, Saturday 15th February 2020 - back Cyrname at 1/2

Tip

Ascot Chase
Cyrname silk

Cyrname

The Cheltenham Festival
Deposit £10 Get £60 + 100 Free Spins
New Customers from UK & IRL only. Deposits made with e-wallets are not valid for this promo. Bonus wagering x35 on eligible games. Winnings from bonus capped at  £500. Spins available after bonus is redeemed/lost. Opt in required. Full T&C’s apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets
New customers using Promo Code P30 only, min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15 (30 days expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply. T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Welcome Offer
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5 and 1x settled bet requirement to release Bet Credits. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org.
Bet £5 Get £30
New Customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 Sports/Virtual Sports Free Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 Casino Bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the Casino Bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Payment Cards only. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly
Bet £10 Get £30 + 30 Free Spins
You must stake £10 or more at single/cumulative odds of Evens (2.0) or greater on your first bet. Free bet balance of £30 credited within 48 hours of your first bet being settled. Free Bets expire after 7 days. E-Wallet restrictions apply. Minimum 5 game rounds. Game restrictions apply. Maximum 30 Free Spins on selected games. Free Spins expire after 7 days. T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Up to £30 in Free Bets
New UK & Ireland Customers Only. Min Deposit: £/€10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Credit Card, Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 & Get £30 Free Bets + £10 Casino Bonus
Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days • Wagering req. vary by game • Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&C’s apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
£25 Bet Bundle
18+ T&Cs apply. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. ** **18+. UK/IRE customers only. Max refund £20. Win or win part of e/w outright singles only. Min field size required. 1st bet on each race. Free bet expires after 7 days. Ante post bets after 9am 5/3/2019 qualify. Free/void bets don’t qualify. T&Cs apply.
Free £20 Exchange Bet
New customers only, bet up to €/£20 on the Exchange and if your first bet loses, we’ll refund you €/£20 in Cash. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. T&Cs apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 Get £10
Bonus Code: £10CHELT. 18+, Welcome Bonus: New Players only, 1st Deposit, Min Deposit: £10, max £10 free bet valid for 14 days, bets must be placed at odds of 1/1 or greater and be settled within 14 days of placement. System bets no eligible. T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org.
Bet £10 Get £10
18+, Welcome Bonus: New Players only, 1st deposit, Min Deposit £10, max £10 free bet valid for 14 days, bets must be placed at odds of 1/1 or greater and be settled within 14 days of placement. System bets not eligible. Only depositing using specific payment methods. T&C's apply, begambleaware.org.
Up to £40 In Bonuses + £10 Casino Bonus
New customers only. 18+, BeGambleAware.org. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus. Wagering requirements: Sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), Casino 25x. Only one bonus can be used at a time, Sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the Casino, unless the bonus has been forfeited. Bonus will expire after 7 days of opt-in.T&C's apply.