Perfect ten for Ascot feature

  • Last Updated: January 13 2014, 18:03 GMT

Sire De Grugy is among 10 hopefuls still in the Grade One Sodexo Clarence House Chase over two miles and a furlong at Ascot on Saturday.

Sire De Grugy: Heads Ascot entries
Sire De Grugy: Heads Ascot entries

Gary Moore's talented chaser has won the Tingle Creek and the Desert Orchid Chase this season, and, in the absence of Sprinter Sacre, he looks likely to bid for his third win in four starts for the campaign at the weekend.

Heading the opposition is 2012 winner Somersby, second to Sire De Grugy in the aforementioned Tingle Creek.

Oiseau de Nuit, also runner-up to Sire De Grugy at Kempton, is another possible runner along with Nicky Henderson's French Opera.

Kauto Stone could represent Paul Nicholls, last time out Ascot winner Lancetto is entered for Evan Williams and Emma Lavelle's talented novice Fox Appeal could drop back in trip.

Henry de Bromhead's pair Special Tiara and Days Hotel head a strong Irish challenge, with Hidden Cyclone also set to make the trip over as he puts his BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase credentials on the line.

Shark Hanlon's nine-year-old has been right back to his best this season, finishing third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and bettering that run when beaten in a tight finish to a two-mile Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Running back over the minimum distance for the first time in eight races, Hidden Cyclone just lost out to Tony Martin's Benefficient. The pair came close together but Benefficient survived a stewards' inquiry on the day, and an appeal by Hanlon and his owners.

"He'll definitely run, he came out of Cheltenham well but he's come out of the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase brilliant and very fresh and I'm very happy with him," said Hanlon.

"The trip at Ascot will probably suit him because the ground will be on the slow side and from there I'm hoping that he will run well and then we can go back to England for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

"They didn't change the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase result, but it's very hard for them to do that after the decision on the day.

"I just thought on the day if the two horses had run to the line straight, he would probably have beaten him but it's water under the bridge now and it's onwards and upwards.

"He'd have to have a serious chance on Saturday if we're thinking of going for the Champion Chase. There's no Sprinter Sacre in there so we'll find out how good the horse is."

Ascot's clerk of the course Chris Stickels said: "The Clarence House Chase looks good with Sire De Grugy and Somersby in there, as well as a couple of Irish horses. The ground is soft at the moment and there is quite an unsettled forecast, but nothing of any great concern."


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