Jamie Lynch

"With great poundage comes great probability, and expectancy is high of not just a win but of Cyrname putting on a show, facing only three rivals." - Sky Sports Racing's Senior Analyst tees up Saturday's Betfair Ascot Chase card.

  • Friday 14 February
  • Blog
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WHAT’S AT STAKE FOR CYRNAME?

The best National Hunt horse around, therefore the most important National Hunt horse around? Not necessarily, because ratings are only part of the legend, not the formation of it, and ratings can sometimes complicate rather than clarify, as Team Tiger Roll is finding out.

But there is something to be said for being the highest-rated chaser in training, and there’s something more to be celebrated about where he’s doing it, or not as the case may be. In an age where jumps racing increasingly and ingenuously revolves around one meeting, in March, Cyrname can’t and won’t be defined by the Cheltenham Festival, which is kudos to him and reassuring for the sport.

A rating of 176 – achieved in this race last year – saw Cyrname top the charts in 2018/19, and he put an extra pound on top of that with his dynamic defeat of Altior, likewise at Ascot, in November, putting him in pole position once again for the untitled title of number one on numbers.

With great poundage comes great probability, and expectancy is high of not just a win but of Cyrname putting on a show, facing only three rivals. Janika and Riders Onthe Storm are at arm’s length by about a stone, but the latter is looking up, two from two since joining Nigel Twiston-Davies, and it’s hard to believe that Riders Onthe Storm – who did a fair impression of Cyrname around this course and distance last time – won’t bridge at least some of that gaping gulf.

Watch Betfair Ascot Chase day at Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Saturday 15th February.

All the same, Cyrname is not just here to win but to ski-jump out of the King George dip and recalibrate to the heady heights he’s hit previously at Ascot, his home track to all intents and purposes.

Cyrname is synonymous with Ascot, hence the Ascot Chase is in many ways the Cyrname Chase, and back-to-back wins would rubber-stamp it.

If indeed Cyrname is the most important jumps horse in training, it’s important he shows the world exactly why, with one of those mechanical, merciless masterclasses which has been his trademark.

REYNOLDSTOWN ROUTE MAP

Let’s start with the conclusion: Copperhead is a tempting 20/1 for the National Hunt Chase, tempting because, despite the intention, the Reynoldstown is as much a trial for that as the RSA.

O’Faolains Boy was the last horse to complete the Reynoldstown-RSA double in 2014. Before that, you have to build a time machine and go all the way back a further 40 years, to 1973, for the previous one, Killiney.

However, in two of the last four years, the Reynoldstown has produced a winner and a runner-up of the National Hunt Chase, both of whom were second at Ascot, namely Minella Rocco and Ms Parfois. And don’t forget that this year the revamped National Hunt Chase has greater quality control, with a reduced distance (of three-and-three-quarter miles) and a minimum qualification rating of 120, to the benefit of the classier contenders, of which Copperhead is potentially one.

The number of fences to be negotiated in the National Hunt Chase, though reduced by two, is still 23, a high premium on jumping, but that’s Copperhead’s specialist subject so far, exhibition stuff by him on his way to handicap wins at Wincanton (franked handsomely since by Fingerontheswitch) and Newbury, also looking a strong stayer on both occasions.

In short, he’s tailor-made for the National Hunt Chase.

As far as Saturday goes, he may lack a little in the finish against one or both of Sam Brown and Pym, for whom the RSA is on their radar, as it still is for Copperhead, but the theory is that, further down the line, the National Hunt Chase is perfect for him, and, remembering recent evidence, he doesn’t need to win the Reynoldstown to advertise the argument.

NOVICE NOT JUST A HEAD-TO-HEAD

The opener will be billed – quite understandably – as a battle between Master Debonair and Sporting John, a classic case of professionalism versus potential. With eight races under his belt, and chasing an Ascot hat-trick, Master Debonair is fully-formed and Cheltenham-ready.

Master Debonair is the standard-setter, but his standard is set, whereas the sky is the limit for Sporting John, for whom two wins in novices at Exeter pre-Christmas have merely scratched the surface.

Watch Betfair Ascot Chase day at Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Saturday 15th February.

It’s a dynamic duo, but Pipesmoker’s presence and promise means this should be treated as a tantalising trio. Let’s review the Cheltenham novice in which Pipesmoker was third on his hurdling debut, at odds of 16/1.

The winner, his stablemate Chantry House, is as low as 8/1 for the Supreme after following up at Newbury last week; the runner-up, Stolen Silver, subsequently won the Grade 2 Rossington Main at Haydock; and the fourth-placed Pileon has scooted up in two starts since.

In retrospect, that’s a very positive platform for Pipesmoker, and, the way he’s bred and the way he finished at Cheltenham, he’ll relish this longer trip, something which can’t be said for Master Debonair, who has looked an out-and-out two-miler so far.

Pipesmoker has the potential to put it to the supposed ‘big two’ in this meaningful novice, and it says something that he still has a Ballymore entry.


Jamie Lynch
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