Schindlers can sink Twist Magic in the Ascot mud

Should Ascot, or Haydock, or even both, survive inspections this morning, there will be no shortage of Cheltenham-bound talent splashing about in the mud. The favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Twist Magic, is due to put his swimming skills to the test in Berkshire, Champion Hurdle contenders Straw Bear and Afsoun are taking their flippers north and a host of well regarded novices have their armbands ready.

Twist Magic will face six in the Victor Chandler Chase – which has Grade One status for the first time – including two mudlarks from Ireland, Mansony and Schindlers Hunt. The ex-French six-year-old has not raced on ground as heavy as that he will face this afternoon since joining Paul Nicholls, but did win on a bog at Auteuil as a three-year-old and his trainer is confident he will cope.

"I'm not so worried about the ground as I might have been when he was a novice," he said. "He's bigger and stronger this year, and I can do more with him and get him that much fitter. It will be testing, but I think he'll be fine. He's well and fresh and there'll be no excuses."

Twist Magic, who will start odds-on today, looked the real deal when he beat the reigning two-mile Cheltenham king, Voy Por Ustedes, a winner since, at Sandown last month, but that has not deterred the two Irish raiders from travelling to take him on. The pair have met twice this season and Mansony has come out better on each occasion, but if there is to be an upset today, it may be worth chancing Schindlers Hunt (1.45) to provide it.

The eight-year-old was one of Ireland's best novices last term, with two top-level victories at Leopardstown, and was one of the market leaders for the Arkle Chase at the Festival before a clerical error ruled him out. On his seasonal debut last month a bad mistake four out, while close up, put paid to his chances behind The Listener at Punchestown.

The more experienced Mansony was second that day, and in front again, by two and a half lengths, 23 days ago when the pair were first and third at Leopardstown. Today's test over a stiff track and on properly soft going, though, will play more to Schindlers Hunt's strengths.

"Twist Magic is going to be hard to beat," admitted Schindlers Hunt's trainer, Dessie Hughes, yesterday, "but I'm sure ours will run a good race. The ground was a bit quick for him in Leopardstown. He's been good since then and he's travelled over well."

The Grade Two novices' chase over the same two miles one furlong should be a match between Twist Magic's stablemate Marodima and Mahogany Blaze, from Nigel Twiston-Davies's yard. It is certainly a rematch; they met at Sandown last month, when Marodima, getting 6lb, prevailed by three and a half lengths. Mahogany Blaze dented his chances that day with a couple of errors but was foot-perfect next time when he routed Pur De Sivola – a task accomplished with equal facility by Marodima earlier in the campaign – at Kempton.

The weight difference is halved today, but the formerly headstrong Marodima (2.20) is learning to settle in front, showing the benefit of his transfer to the Manor Farm academy after his owner, David Johnson, gave 145,000gns for him at auction eight months ago. He can strengthen claims for the Arkle Trophy.

Graded races confined to mares are often criticised as not being up to scratch for their status, but it is early days in the elite programme being constructed to encourage the racing of the female of the species and the situation will only improve. There is little to carp about the standard of today's contest, however; most of the runners have held their own in prestige open-sex competition.

Labelthou is never happier than when presented with three miles and mud up to her oxters, and if she is none the worse for a crashing fall over fences at Haydock, is the pick. But look out for progressive Hendre Hotshot (2.55), who may repay each-way support against the bigger guns.

In Haydock's Champion Hurdle Trial, Afsoun (1.25) and Straw Bear are miles clear of their rivals on all known form. Neither is particularly consistent but on this season's form being outbattled narrowly by Hardy Eustace (Afsoun at Ascot) probably has more merit to it than outbattling Harchibald even more narrowly (Straw Bear at Kempton) and Nicky Henderson's charge, winner of this contest in similar conditions 12 months ago, is preferred.

Our Vic, runner-up in the King George VI Chase, is the class act in the Peter Marsh Chase but no horse has carried top weight to victory since Jodami 10 years ago. It may be prudent to look further down the handicap, particularly at his stablemate Madison Du Berlais (2.00). And in the novices' chase Pancake (2.30) can show the experience of his debut third over fences, behind Marodima and Mahogany Blaze, was not lost on him.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?