Ascot Chase tips: Shun Shishkin and Fakir for Nicholls late bloomer

Pic D’Orhy can make his belated Grade 1 breakthrough in the Ascot Chase



1 year ago

This Saturday’s Grade 1 Ascot Chase (3.35) looks set to be fascinating contest and one that could have serious implications on ante-post betting for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

Betting for the Festival contest has been thrown wide-open following news that dual winner Allaho is out for the season and three of the top seven in the market for the race line up at the Berkshire circuit: joint-favourite Fakir D’oudairies (11/4), Shishkin (7/2) and Pic D’Orhy (9/1).

The latter is far closer to the first two mentioned in Betzone’s Ascot Chase odds and could be worth backing for the Ryanair ahead of what we expect to be his first Grade 1 success this weekend.

3.35 Ascot – Ascot Chase odds
Fakir D’oudairies 2/1
Pic D’Orhy 2/1
Shishkin 3/1
Millers Bank 9/1
First Flow 22/1
Aye Right 66/1

Consistent customer Fakir’s recent form isn’t his finest

Fakir D’oudairies bids to follow up his victory in last year’s race and arrives with the confidence booster of a ‘1’ next to his name.

However, Joseph O’Brien’s eight-year-old was a fortunate winner of the Grade 2 Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles on his most recent outing.

He was two lengths down, with jockey JJ Slevin having been hard at work in the saddle for some time when leader Haut En Coleurs fell at the last when yet to be asked a serious question.

Prior to that he’d been well and truly put in his place by Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs – going down by 13 lengths in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.

Shishkin tough to trust after successive damp squibs

Dual Festival winner Shishkin is 10lbs clear of his Ascot rivals on official ratings, but only second favourite as he steps up to a trip of more than 2m for the first time under rules.

His last two runs do little to inspire confidence in, or excitement for, backing him at X/X here. Pulled up in the Champion Chase at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, he then finished 15 lengths behind Edwardstone in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek on his sole run of this campaign to date.

Trainer Nicky Henderson has long suspected his gelding to be ready to go up in trip but the fact that he turns up in a first-time tongue tie here (despite it also being his first run since a wind-operation) is another hint that the Seven Barrow’s handler is still searching for answers.

Pic to emulate stablemate and grow into a Grade 1 performer

Pic D’Orhy put in the performance of his career when winning a Kempton Grade 2 by 16 lengths last time out. Now, trainer Paul Nicholls is confident he’s a different horse than when bombing in his two previous tilts at Grade 1 company over fences, telling the Racing Post:

“Pic D’Orhy has always had plenty of ability and he’s a little like Bravemansgame in that he’s massive and has just taken all this time to mature.

He wasn’t jumping that well in his first season over fences but he’s been fantastic on that score this season. He’s the finished article now and hopefully will keep improving.”

That Kempton success was his second successive Grade 2 of the season after a win in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon in which he bested the reopposing Millers Bank and First Flow.

Nicholls’ eight-year-old has won four of his six career starts on the expected good ground and can rubber stamp his ascent to Grade 1 animal at Ascot.