Jamie Lynch

"There are shades of Cyrname vs Altior about this latest Ascot duel" - read Jamie Lynch's latest blog, as we gear up for Saturday's Grade 1 Matchbook Clarence House Chase.

  • Friday 17 January
  • Blog
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HOME GROUND

At Haydock, 20 minutes before the Matchbook Clarence House Chase at Ascot, is The New One Hurdle, so named in his honour because he won the race four times. And that’s exactly how it should be.

In the reference book that is racing, which relies on its heritage, its heroes and heroines, certain events ought to be recognised by the certain horses they’re synonymous with, something that happens ridiculously rarely in this day and age of the sponsorship shilling.

The New One accolade begs the question of whether the Clarence House should be renamed the Un De Sceaux Chase if he makes it a fourth success in the race on Saturday? The chances of the honourary title are slim, but the chances of a fourth Clarence House for Un De Sceaux are high, at least 50%, despite the market selling him shorter.

In theory it’s a home fixture for the British-trained Defi Du Seuil, but in practice it’s more Un De Sceaux’s territory, for the track (at which he’s two from two) and the ground, the softer the better for him. Defi Du Seuil has never raced on ground that has heavy in the description, whereas Un De Sceaux has won all six completed starts under such conditions, when his characteristic game of catch-me-if-you-can always ends up with his rivals saying ‘we can’t.’

Watch the Matchbook Clarence House Chase Raceday at Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Saturday 18th January.

There are shades of Cyrname vs Altior about this latest Ascot duel. The second-favourite (for now) is the higher-rated horse and the Ascot specialist whose tailor-made track craft hands him an advantage he can attack from. And we all know how the 1965 Chase went.

TEACHING A YOUNG PUP NEW TRICKS

We’re already looking ahead with Goshen, not just to the Triumph but the tactics in the Triumph. That’s because the top two juveniles in Britain, of which Goshen is one and Allmankind the other, are cut from exactly the same cloth.

Their performances so far over hurdles have been a mirror image of each other, both walking a tearaway tightrope, just on the right side, but the big engines within both are all too clear, the pair unbeaten and unbridled.

However, something’s got to give, either at Cheltenham or before it, and with that in mind will Goshen be asked to try something new, less haste and more harnessed?

That’s easier said than done, of course, with a horse who’s wired that way, but, from what we’ve seen, Goshen is the likelier of the two to be receptive to restraint, remembering that the last leg of his Flat hat-trick came when stalking rather than scorching.

But to do it at Cheltenham he’s got to practice it at Ascot, which makes this juvenile hurdle (12.40) a significant step in his steep learning curve, if he is indeed to become the best of his generation.

BETTER CHASER OR BETTER HORSE?

In the Grade 2 bet365 Mares Hurdle at 1.50, Sensulano has hopes on her hurdling form but high hopes if this season’s improvement isn’t only about the fences. She has just turned 7, and had only a dozen races prior to this term, which strongly suggests her upturn may be coincidental rather than incidental to chasing, while the way she’s tanked through her last two races – successful at Fontwell and Warwick (Listed chase) – points to her being in a really good place right now, flourishing generally.

She’s 1 from 1 at Ascot, and that was also the longest trip she’s tried so far, into the unknown with another couple of furlongs on Saturday, but she’s always looked a stayer, on top of which she’s in her element in the mud, her record on heavy ground reading second, third (in a Grade 2 hurdle), second and first.

The smaller obstacles need be no obstacle at all to her thriving status.

IN THE PUBLIC DOMAINE

Back in the public eye, after more than three years out of the training game, Sean Curran has unearthed a good’un in the shape of Domaine De L’Isle, who’s in the fast lane of improvement, marking him out from the crowd in the valuable bet365 Handicap Chase at 3.00.

Watch the Matchbook Clarence House Chase Raceday at Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Saturday 18th January.

In his first spell training, Sean Curran pulled a rabbit out of the hat with Iris De Balme, winner of the 2008 Scottish Grand National at odds of 66/1, from no less than 26lb out of the handicap.

As the names might suggest, Iris De Balme was a transfer from France, as was Domaine De L’Isle, who has been quicker to acclimatise, winning in such style at Chepstow and Newcastle that he has demanded a shot at the bigger time, hence his date with this high-end handicap at Ascot.

It’s a case of striking while the iron is hot, and Domaine De L’Isle couldn’t be hotter right now, impressing in every department on his way to dismissing Sam’s Adventure (the pair a long way clear) at Newcastle a fortnight ago, looking ready and able for this bigger challenge.


Jamie Lynch
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