Successes do not dull Pipe's appetite and he now finds himself with more than twice the number of winners of his nearest rival, David Nicholson, and almost double the money. Pond House is relatively sparsely represented today, though that should not prevent a sizeable payment returning from Ascot.
Or Royal, Pipe's Arkle Chase winner, represents the Somerset yard around The Queen's acres in the First National Bank Gold Cup, and the grey and fellow top-weight Simply Dashing may have the prize between them. Slaves to the form book have already awarded the contest to the latter as he thrashed the Murphy's Gold Cup winner, Senor El Betrutti, by 15 lengths last time.
The main protagonists also have a form line between them as they met over course and distance a year ago. Again, this is ostensibly reason to back Simply Dashing, as he came off best. But, despite that, Tim Easterby's horse has been dribbling out in the market all week.
Or Royal, on the other hand, has come in for support following the deluge of rain and unusually bullish noises from his trainer. When he last met Simply Dashing the ground was not ideal and he was not ridden from behind, the method that serves him best. OR ROYAL (nap 2.30) is now 3lb better off with Simply Dashing and, as he goes well fresh, must be the selection.
Coulton too performs better after a holiday, having won first time out for the last four years. The unkind have suggested he should have linked arms with the Scarecrow and Tin Man on the road to the Emerald City, such is his reluctance for a battle, but Oliver Sherwood will not tolerate such nonsense about Coulton (1.20), who can keep up the sequence today as his four rivals are out of the handicap.
Papua, a one-time Derby hope, pays for failure to justify his potential by being asked to heave his tackle over the splinters of eight flights of a three-year-old hurdle. Sound Appeal (1.55), who surprised better fancied rivals over course and distance, is preferred.
Away from the cameras at Ascot there are other captivating runners, notably Boardroom Shuffle, who makes his chasing debut in the Hurst Park Novices' Chase. The opening novices' hurdle contains course winners from a different sphere in Fujiyama Crest, Dettori's seventh on the seven day, and Zaralaska, the vehicle for a Luca Cumani cheeky trick at York before bouncing back after a month's ban to win the Bessborough at the Royal meeting.
At Aintree, there are opportunities for Storm Run (1.05) and Flying Eagle (next best 1.35), a very easy winner at Sandown last time. In the Becher Chase over those great walls of spruce, Sound Strong (2.10) is preferred to Young Hustler, who is finding it difficult to justify his name these days.
NAP: Or Royal
NB: Flying Eagle
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