TWO FOR GOLD looks a big price given he’s already proven in this class from his excellent win at Warwick last time out.
He relished every yard of the three-mile trip there and these testing conditions should be right up his street. It’s still early days for him over fences and there could be a lot more to come.
There was a lot to like about the way Pym got the job done at Cheltenham last time.
He beat a useful performer by eight lengths and Nicky Henderson thinks a lot of him. This is hotter company but he looks a real prospect.
Sam Brown cruised to victory in a Haydock Grade 2 last month. He was helped by his main rivals taking a tumble but he scored fair and square. That was over shorter but he looks a proper stayer.
Copperhead gets weight from the main contenders despite winning well at Newbury in December.
His jumping really caught the eye there and he deserves this step up in class. Even further would be ideal but stamina will be an asset in this ground.
Danny Whizzbang was found out at Grade 1 level at Christmas without being disgraced. This easier company will help and he was impressive at Newbury before that reverse.
|3. Two For Gold|
J: David Bass
T: K C Bailey
Ascot – Feb 15th 15:50
DOMAINE DE L’ISLE enjoyed himself here last time when landing a hot handicap with a late surge. That was over a slightly shorter trip and his proven stamina will be a major asset today.
A 6lb rise in the weights looks fair and this is only his fifth UK chase run so there could be more to come.
Regal Encore won this two years ago from 4lb higher and has three Ascot victories to his name. He scored on his last visit here in December and stays forever. He’ll be hard to keep out of the frame.
Valtor looks a big player and will prefer this trip to the 3m4f he tackled behind Yala Enki at Taunton last time.
He has won both starts at Ascot including the red-hot Silver Cup in 2018.
Jepeck won the big veterans’ race at Sandown last month and is another who won’t be stopping in the closing stages.
Red Indian didn’t get him in the Peter Marsh at Haydock after travelling well and that has to be a worry again.
Captain Drake looked full of stamina when winning at Exeter last time and has more to offer. If Ballyoptic runs here rather than Haydock he can’t be ruled out.
|3. Domaine De L’Isle|
J: B S Hughes
T: S Curran
Ascot – Feb 15th 16:25
THE CON MAN has plenty of tricks up his sleeve after winning well at Kelso last time. He went through the bottomless ground well and was full of petrol at the end of the 2m5f trip.
This is a tougher contest but he looks progressive and can handle it.
Malaya won the red-hot Imperial Cup last year and has dropped to just 2lb higher now. She may have that race as her target again but she likes it soft and is interesting at a big price upped in distance by Paul Nicholls.
Dorking Boy was given too much to do when fourth at Huntingdon last time. He landed two good wins before that and still looks ahead of the handicapper.
Eden Du Houx did well in bumpers and landed his first hurdles win at Chepstow last time. That was over two miles but he shapes like this sort of trip will suit and can improve.
Jolly’s Cracked It goes well here and was third in a good race last month. Staying is a concern but he has enough quality to figure.
|6. The Con Man|
J: B S Hughes
T: D McCain Jnr
Ascot – Feb 15th 17:00
CYRNAME should be much too good over his very best course and distance.
He’s the highest rated chaser in training mainly because he sticks to what he’s good at, which is winning races over this trip at Ascot.
He handed out a beating to Altior on his last visit in November before a creditable second in the King George at Kempton away from his beloved track.
It’s hard to see Riders Onthe Storm – talented as he is – faring better than the dual Champion Chaser did.
Team Twiston-Davies are right to have a crack though as he was an easy winner over course and distance on his last outing in December.
He was in cruise control and jumped really well. There was nothing of Cyrname’s class to beat in the line-up though.
There should be more to come from the seven-year-old but he looks booked for second.
Janika has been below his best a couple of times now, including over a shorter distance here last month. He won the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in November but doesn’t look up to this level.
Traffic Fluide is guaranteed eight grand for finishing fourth and he did win a handicap well here on his most recent start. Problem is that was back in November 2018 so he’s entitled to need this.
J: Harry Cobden
T: P F Nicholls
Ascot – Feb 15th 17:35
THE WORLDS END won the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last time which sets him apart from these rivals.
Paisley Park may have missed that contest but it was still a good effort to win comfortably. He handles these conditions well and has winning form at Haydock, which is a plus.
West Approach is interesting back over hurdles after a poor show in the Welsh National. His best form in this sphere would put him in the shake-up and he likes cut in the ground.
Emitom had a rare blip when last of six at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. He never looked happy back from nine months off and this flatter track should suit.
He signed off last season with an excellent second in red-hot Sefton Hurdle at Aintree so has talent.
|1. The Worlds End|
J: A P Heskin
T: T R George
Haydock – Feb 15th 16:05
YALA ENKI can pass this Grand National Trial. He has Aintree’s big one as the target and with good reason after an excellent third in the Welsh version followed by an easy win at Taunton last time.
He stays well, likes it soft, and hasn’t been clobbered by the handicapper. The move to Paul Nicholls’ yard seems to have rekindled the spark that saw him win this race by a distance two years ago.
Vintage Clouds has a brilliant record here and sauntered to victory in the Peter Marsh last time. He has gone up 11lb for that but he should be right there again.
Elegant Escape saves his best for marathon trips and soft ground and gets his conditions here. He may have too much weight to win but won’t be far away.
Lord Du Mesnil is improving fast and has landed two bloodless wins around here already this season. The handicapper has given him more to do but he likes it soft and has more to offer.
Grand National winner One For Arthur ran well in the Becher over the big Aintree fences last time. He will like the ground and can give each-way backers a good run for their money.
|2. Yala Enki|
J: Bryony Frost
T: P F Nicholls
Haydock – Feb 15th 17:15
QUEL DESTIN clocked a personal best when winning a Sandown Listed race as he liked last time. He can take this step up in class in his stride in conditions that suit him right down to the ground.
The two-mile trip is ideal and Paul Nicholls continues to fire in the winners.
I may have lost my marbles to suggest Elgin can go close on his first hurdles run since finishing fifth in the 2018 Champion Hurdle.
He won this race en-route to the Festival and trainer Alan King will have done plenty of work at home. If anywhere near his best he’ll have a major say.
Song For Someone has no fitness issues having finished a good second in a hot Ascot handicap last month. He stays further than this which could be a real asset in the conditions.
This will take some winning and Ch’tibello can’t be ruled out. His last win came in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and he’s held his own in graded races since then.
|3. Two Taffs|
J: Harry Skelton
T: D Skelton
Warwick – Feb 8th 17:15
1.15 Master Debonair
1.50 Two For Gold
2.25 Domaine De L’Isle (treble)
3.00 The Con Man
4.10 Silent Assistant
1.25 Al Daiha
2.00 Dublin Pharoah
3.10 Something Lucky
3.45 El Ghazwani
4.20 Saracen Star
1.30 Nechells Bridge
2.05 The Worlds End
2.40 Sir Psycho
3.15 Yala Enki (nb)
3.50 Young Bull
4.25 Ramses De Teillee
5.00 Wishing And Hoping
2.12 Cloudy Glen
2.45 QUEL DESTIN (NAP)
3.23 Midnight Midge
4.32 Worthy Farm
5.07 Sandymount Rose
4.55 Ice Pyramid
5.30 The Bull
6.00 Cote D’Azur
6.30 Big Lachie
8.00 Kupa River