AN AURA OF MYSTERY
Itchy Feet is a Grade 1 winner, as is Black Corton, and Real Steel once finished second from his five attempts in Grade 1s, and yet it’s Imperial Aura, who has never raced in Graded company, that feels like the headline act in the 1965 Chase.
That’s probably because he’s the “now” horse in the field, the one whose approaching the very peak of his powers, which probably can’t be said for the others. Imperial Aura has earnt the right to play this Grade 2 game via a series of graduations, culminating last season at the Cheltenham Festival and starting this one in the same purposeful fashion in a Listed race at Carlisle that has been the springboard for Many Clouds, Waiting Patiently and Lostintranslation.
It’s his first visit to Ascot, a rhythm track, but he’s very much a rhythm horse, likely to be in his element around here, given that jumping at pace seems his specialist subject, looking more of a machine the more we see of him.
This is Imperial Aura’s biggest test yet, but he’s ready, willing and able for it.
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WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
There are three horses coming to the novices’ handicap chase at 12.55 from the same race at Uttoxeter, won by Demachine, with Young Bull 7½ lengths away in third, and Minella Bobo forgivably fading into seventh on his first start in 18 months.
From the family of Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere, it’s no wonder Demachine took so well to fences at Uttoxeter, promising to progress more, but the weights and measures say that Young Bull has a shot of turning things around: the weights because he’s as much as 12lb better off (factoring in that Richard Patrick can no longer claim), and the measures as this race is over an extra 292 yards, definitely in the favour of the strong-staying Young Bull.
His half-brother Shanroe Santos won the Southern National, and Young Bull teams up with David Bass for the first time, who’s the sort of positive, push-and-shove rider that will get plenty out of him, and there ought to be plenty in him, if suspicions about his stamina are right.
After losing her way, Coillte Eile finds herself 5lb lower in the handicap this time around, on top of the fact Liam Harrison claims 7lb, and the stable switch (from Dr Newland to Fergal O’Brien) is a potential reason for a resurgence.
Capeland, on the other hand, is 7lb higher than in 2019, but he did win by a dozen lengths that day, and he tries cheekpieces here after an uncharacteristic jumping lapse on his reappearance.
PUTTING THE FLAT INTO NATIONAL HUNT FLAT
The closing bumper at 3.50 tends to be a hot one, the Ascot factor drawing the big stables, but it’s still a flat race in essence and, on paper, the newcomer with the “flattest” pedigree is Top Of The Bill.
He’s by Gold Cup winner Fame And Glory, who was also Derby favourite in Sea The Stars’s year, and one of Top Of The Bill’s half-brothers is Master Red, who won a 13f bumper first time out at odds of 20/1.
But it’s his other half-brother who’s the biggest recommendation, because Chatez won five times on the level at a mile, even contesting a Group 3. All of that makes Top Of The Bill more interesting than most in this spot.