Registered as The Clarence House Chase this race was known as the Victor Chandler Chase who sponsored the race from it's first year in 1987 until 2013 and then the Sodoxo Clarence House Chase from 2014 to 2016.
Although this race actually had a dreadful start when the first two races in 1987 and 1988 were abandoned because of poor weather (Frost and fog) the first time is was run in 1989 was one of the best races I have ever seen. Then a handicap run over a slightly shorter distance of 2 miles saw Desert Orchid the strong front running grey taking on the very smart Panto Prince and giving him a stone and 8 pounds, over a distance that was shorter than ideal for Dessie and getting the better of Panto Prince holding on to win by a head..
The race was changed from a handicap and up-rated to Grade 1 status and a further furlong added to the distance in 2007.More . . .
For 5yo+ which are allotted a rating of 130 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including January 2nd. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in GB, IRE or France may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horses's racecourse performances up to and including January 2nd would merit a minimum rating of 130. Weights 5yo 11st 4lb; 6yo+ 11st 7lb Allowances mares 7lb
A small but select field lineup at ascot today in the newly sponsored Berkshire community foundation Clarence House Chase.
We’ll start with the top-rated unlikely to go off odds-on favourite Un De Sceaux. This bay gelding from the Willie Mullins yard was a winner in this race last year. He is a horse of top-class which he showed last season. He was 2nd to the great Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother two-mile Champion Chase at Cheltenham at last season’s Festival, and despite losing to the same horse in another grade 1 at Sandown a month later he then went to France and one a grade 2 hurdle race by over eight lengths. He showed that he retains all of his form when he ran in the Tingle Creek Chase, a grade one at Sandown back in December where he beat past Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy and also one of his opponents today Ar Mad. He should go off a short-priced favourite but is entitled to do so.
The 2015 Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets comes year needing to put up a good performance to restore some confidence in him. He hasn’t quite looked the horse that we saw in that race this season. He really does need to bounce back to form to have any chance here.
Top Gamble is being sent year from the Kelly Lee yard. He is a horse with some good form with his best run probably in the grade 2 Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse where he had the smart Sizing Granite and Fleminstar in behind. He needs to find a bit to win here today but is not without a chance.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson rides Royal Regatta for trainer Philip Hobbs. He is a twice winner at Ascot and always seems to run well here and Ascot is a racecourse where course form is certainly a bonus. He is another that will have to step up today but he could just be the dark horse in the race.
The 11-year-old bay gelding Eastlake is the final runner in the race. Has not started the season to well when being pulled up in his first two runs at Aintree and then at Cheltenham. He bounced back to winning form in the Raymond Mould handicap chase at the Cheltenham early December meeting. He beat two good horses in Vaniteux and Sizing Platinum but the conditions that day were very poor and the ground was probably much softer than the official going as it rained or drizzled from early that day. Would be something of a surprise winner in this grade.Two added runners to the race that was originally set to run last week.
The first is Special Tiara. Special Tiara is a good 10-year-old bay gelding from the Henry De Bromhead stable. He was 3rd in last season’s Champion chase behind Sprinter Sacre and the favourite today Un De Sceaux. He comes here in good form wining the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Boxing day.
Secondly the smart Uxizandre has been entered in the race. This Alan King trained horse was the winner of last season’s Ryanair chase. He is a very smart horse and one who always runs well at Cheltenham. With this race being re-routed to Cheltenham this will have advanced his cause and the forecast rain will also do hid chances no harm.
|1||73-3P4||Dodging Bullets||9||11-7||Paul Nicholls||Nick Scholfield||157|
|2||91-PP1||Eastlake||11||11-7||Jonjo O´Neill||Wayne Hutchinson||154|
|3||123-51||Royal Regatta||9||11-7||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson||158|
|4||23-631||Special Tiara||10||11-7||Henry De Bromhead||Noel Fehily||—|
|5||311-53||Top Gamble||9||11-7||Kerry Lee||Davy Russell||159|
|6||22-161||Un De Sceaux||9||11-7||W P Mullins||R Walsh||—|
|7||418U1/||Uxizandre||9||11-7||Alan King||Barry Geraghty||160|
|1||22-161||Un De Sceaux||9||11-7||W P Mullins||R Walsh||—|
|2||418U1/||Uxizandre||9||11-7||Alan King||Barry Geraghty||160|
|3||311-53||Top Gamble||9||11-7||Kerry Lee||Davy Russell||159|
|4||73-3P4||Dodging Bullets||9||11-7||Paul Nicholls||Nick Scholfield||157|
|5||23-631||Special Tiara||10||11-7||Henry De Bromhead||Noel Fehily||—|
|PU||91-PP1||Eastlake||11||11-7||Jonjo O´Neill||Wayne Hutchinson||154|
|PU||123-51||Royal Regatta||9||11-7||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson||158|
Special Tiara and Royal Regatta started out in front and all runners were going well with the exception of Uxizandre who did not settle early on.
Un De Sceaux gained distance on every jump. The field got spread out as they reached half way so the pace was good.
As they were going down the back Royal Regatta lost his place and was soon tailed off with Eastlake who was never going today, both were pulled up.
When they approached the second last the writing was on the wall with Un De Sceaux showing his class and Uxizandre the only horse staying with him.
Un De Sceaux won the race easily with Uxizandre in second and Top Gamble in third. Dogging Bullets did nothing wrong but could not keep up when the pace got going, he finished fourth.
Secial Tiara who went well for a long way weakened and finished fifth.