Without Big Matt, who landed the two-mile event in 1996, Nicky Henderson's stable- jockey, Mick Fitzgerald, becomes free to ride Celibate, who is favourite in some lists. Richard Dunwoody, who had also been under consideration for that ride, could now partner Lord Dorcet or Native Mission.
Ask Tom's absence means that the weights for the race will rise by 11lb, leaving Mulligan as the new top weight and bringing all bar Green Green Desert into the handicap proper.
One of those to benefit by the weight rise is Lord Dorcet, who was cut from 8-1 to 5-1 by William Hill yesterday and from 7-1 to 6-1 by Coral. The latter firm had eased the gelding to 7-1 only the previous day from an initial price of 11-2, but there were plenty of takers yesterday and by lunchtime Coral had been forced to think again.
Victor Chandler Handicap Chase (Ascot, Saturday) Coral: 9-2 Or Royal, 5-1 Celibate, 11-2 Mulligan, 6-1 (from 7-1) Lord Dorcet, 7-1 Arctic Kinsman, Cumbrian Challenge, 8-1 Leotard, 9-1 Jeffell, 14-1 Time Won't Wait, 20- 1 Storm Alert, Native Mission, 25-1 Green Green Desert.
William Hill: 4-1 Celibate, 9-2 Or Royal, 5-1 Lord Dorcet (from 8-1), 11-2 Mulligan, 7-1 Arctic Kinsman, 8-1 Cumbrian Challenge, 10-1 Jeffell (from 12-1), Leotard, 14-1 Time Won't Wait, 16-1 Big Matt, 25-1 Native Mission, 33-1 Green Green Desert.