• Racing/
  • King Welcomes Medermit Return

Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1) 2m 5f 110y

  • (5yo+, 2m 5f 110y, Class 1, 8 runners)
  • Winner £84,405 2nd £31,800 3rd £15,915 4th £7,950 5th £3,990 6th £1,995 7th £990 8th £510
  • Going: Soft, Heavy in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 5m 29.60s
  • Off time: 15:53:28
Full result
Result 15:50 Ascot
Pos Horse Distance/th> Odds
1st 1 Captain Chris 8/11f
2nd 2 Cloudy Too 19 7/1
3rd 3 Hunt Ball 12 20/1
  • Last Updated: February 14 2014, 17:49 GMT

Views from connections ahead of the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday.

Medermit: Returns at Ascot
Medermit: Returns at Ascot

Trainer Alan King admits it is not ideal for Medermit to have his first run for nearly two years on heavy ground in the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday.

The popular grey has not been seen since finishing a close fourth in the Betfred Bowl at the Grand National meeting of 2012.

He met with a setback at the start of the following season and his return this campaign was delayed slightly by a pulled muscle which prevented him from running at Cheltenham's meeting on New Year's Day.

Now a 10-year-old, Medermit has been second in a Supreme Novices' Hurdle and fourth in an Arkle in his pomp and holds an entry in the Gold Cup next month.

King is, however, just keen to get him back on a racetrack.

"He's obviously been off a very long time," said the Barbury Castle handler.

"He's in good order, though, and we need to get a run into him if we've got any plans of sending him to Cheltenham.

"I would have preferred better ground to bring him back on but we've just got no option.

"If we want a run it will have to be on this ground."

Another much-discussed chaser making a return in the Grade One is Hunt Ball.

He sprang to prominence in the 2011-12 season when with Keiran Burke, winning seven races which culminated in a keynote success at the Cheltenham Festival.

Things were tougher the following campaign, but he performed with credit at a much loftier level before his owner, Anthony Knott, decided to sell.

While the plan was for him to go through the sales ring, he was bought privately to go to America.

But that venture did not work and he has ended up with champion trainer Nicky Henderson.

"I love Hunt Ball - he's a gorgeous person and looks great," said Henderson.

"I've got to break cover with him sooner or later.

"He has been in America and had to do quarantine so didn't really start to get going until after Christmas."

Hunt Ball has been entered in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and the Crabbie's Grand National, while Henderson also runs Riverside Theatre, a two-times winner of this race.

The hot favourite is the Philip Hobbs-trained Captain Chris, second to Cue Card in this race 12 months ago when he made a late mistake.

A former winner of the Arkle, it is no secret that he much prefers going right-handed and is probably stretched by the trip in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in which he finished sixth last year.

Narrowly beaten on his return in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon, when attempting to give 10lb to Riverside Theatre, he looked imperious at Kempton last time out, strolling to a 23-length win over a solid yardstick in Champion Court.

"I'm very pleased with him and Ascot is ideal, as it's right-handed and he's always inclined to go right - two-miles-six is his perfect trip, probably," Hobbs told At The Races.

"He won very nicely the last day and has been in good form since.

"We've always liked him very much and he's been a great horse to have."

Cloudy Too beat Tap Night on his seasonal return at Carlisle before trainer Sue Smith felt he failed to get home in the Hennessy after running well for a long way.

The eight-year-old was an impressive 10-length winner last time out in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby.

"He's very well and is going down there in good form," said Smith.

"It could be just the right trip for him, especially in heavy ground. I hope he's going to run a nice race.

"He didn't appear to get him at Newbury, it was gluey old ground that day and it just found him out.

"Over two-six and with that pull up the hill it should be just about right, he liked the stiff finish at Carlisle."

Paul Nicholls runs Rolling Aces, a beaten odd-on favourite last time out at Sandown.

"He had a good season as a novice and was just beaten in the Racing Plus Chase," Nicholls told Betfair.

"He started the season very well winning at Down Royal and then he went to Sandown for an intermediate chase over three miles and I don't think he really got the trip.

"The middle distance is fine for him so he'll go to Ascot and then be aimed for the Ryanair."

New Sky Bet customers: Free matched bet up to £30

reopens Barry Geraghty will again partner Riverside Theatre, who has a fine Ascot record.

Geraghty is quietly confident, and wrote in his At The Races blog: "Those two wins in 2011 and 2012 where the only times he's been asked to jump round Ascot and the only other time he's been to the track he won his bumper.

"It's obvious the place suits him and I'd be pretty confident he can keep the unbeaten run going.

"He toughed it out to win the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on his first run back on December 12 - the track that was on the sharp side for him but his class got him through.

"It was only two weeks later that he turned out for the King George VI Chase at Kempton and that was too soon.

"Even though he unseated me early in the race I got the feeling he was just a bit flat so he should be in a much better place now having had January off.

"It was too early to form a judgement about how the blinkers affected him but I'm pretty sure they'll have a positive impact over his favourite track.

"On form we have to respect Captain Chris."