6

15:20 Ascot 23 Nov 2019

Gerard Bertrand Hurst Park Handicap Chase

Class 2 | 4YO plus

Winner £78,200 - 10 ran

2m 167y

Soft

Draw Advantage: None

Last year’s race

Caid du Lin
  • Winner: Caid Du Lin
  • Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
  • Trainer: Dr R D P Newland
  • Owner: Foxtrot Racing
  • Age: 6 Weight: 10st 11lbs
  • Starting Price: 16/1
  • Season Form Figures: 12P2
  • Previous Best: 1st – Class 4 Novices’ Chase, Worcester (Sept 2018)

With a prize pool of £125,000, the Hurst Park is a more valuable 2m handicap chase than the Grand Annual but, whereas that race at the Festival will be oversubscribed, just 12 horses were entered for Saturday’s contest at Ascot. Go figure! The lure of the Cheltenham Festival, eh?

Paul Nicholls isn’t one to pass up big-money pots and has three of the dozen entries including Diego du Charmil and Capeland who were involved in that crazy incident at the final fence in the equivalent 2m handicap at Ascot’s first jumps meeting of the season three weeks earlier. That handicap is an obvious guide for this more valuable contest three weeks later and Caid du Lin improved on his second place there to cause a 16/1 upset in this race last year. Fix The Rib achieved likewise ten years ago, finishing runner-up three weeks earlier before claiming this prize.

Watch Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd of November.

Caid du Lin hasn’t been the only surprise winner as none of the last five could be found in the first three in the betting. In fact, no favourite has finished in the first two since 2012.

It was very much up the air as to which of Diego du Charmil or Capeland would have prevailed here 21 days ago until the loose horse caused the leader to hang badly left forcing Capeland to run through the wings but DDC did remarkably well to get going again after being brought to a standstill to fend off the two horses that he had seemingly put to bed after turning for home. The handicapper has factored in that he would have beaten the eventual second more easily than the tight winning margin by giving him a 6lb bump whereas Capeland is allowed to run off 143 again. Caid du Lin (4th), Speredek (6th) and Ballywood (u.r 5th) also contested that 2m handicap chase. 

The trainer with the best recent record in the race however is Gary Moore who has won it with two of his last four runners including the former Champion Chaser, Sire de Grugy, the only winner to win aged in double-figures in the last decade, and he looks set to run Knocknanuss.

He contested three Grade 1 novice chases in the second half of the season, cutting little ice in those, but returned with a promising third to Saint Calvados at Cheltenham over 2m4f given how free he was, plus stepping up in trip on testing ground. He was taken out of the BetVictor Gold Cup, probably due to the trip on the ground, but that could prove a blessing as 2m looks his trip and that run in October will have got the freshness out of him.

The Last Day has been put in as favourite for Evan Williams who has saddled a winner and placed runner from his last six runners in this race. He won once in four starts in novice chases last season and returned to Aintree to win by an eased-down 5l. The handicapper wasn’t duped and raised him 11lb for the ease of that success.

In addition to Sire de Grugy winning, class has told more often than not with seven of the last ten winners carrying 11st+.

At a glance summary

Positives
Carrying 11st+
Ran well in the equivalent 2m handicap at Ascot three weeks earlier
Trained by Gary Moore or Evan Williams
Negatives
Aged 10+
The favourite and second-favourite