Ascot tips for Saturday: Saphir Du Rheu weighted to shine in Sodexo Gold Cup
Saphir Du Rheu handicapped to strike Gold
Saphir Du Rheu has some top class form to his name and can cash-in on a drop in the weights to land the 2m 7f Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (15.35).
Trained by Paul Nicholls, the seven-year-old put has won three of his eight starts over fences and put in a stunning when romping to a 15-length success in a Grade 1 at Aintree on his final start of the 2014/15 season off an official rating of 163.
Saphir Du Rheu then looked as good as ever on seasonal reappearance last year when easily landing a Listed chase at Carlisle by seven lengths from the Young Master.
The son of Al Namix was sent off favourite for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on the back of that victory and was far from disgraced in finishing fifth of 15 to Smad Place off a mark of 163.
Potentially thrown-in on pick of his form
Saphir Du Rheu then failed to shine in four subsequent starts over hurdles and fences, but those performances left connections baffled.
However, owner Andy Stewart reports him to be back in the groove and Saphir Du Rheu now returns to action off a reduced rating of just 152.
That makes him potentially thrown-in on the pick of his form and the one they all have to beat.
Pearls Legend a Byrne Group Handicap Chase gem
Pearls Legend has a good record fresh and looks worth a punt at the odds on offer in the 2m Byrne Group Handicap Chase (14.25).
John Spearing’s gelding is a tough and consistent sort who ran a blinder in the race 12 months ago on seasonal reappearance when runner-up to Cold March.
The nine-year-old went on to land a competitive contest at Cheltenham off a a mark of 133 and was also far from disgraced when fifth of 24 to Solar Impulse in the Grand Annual at the Festival off 138.
Pearls Legend went on to round off the campaign with a solid fourth at Aintree and now returns to action off a rating 136, just 3lb higher than when last successful, and looks weighted to run a huge race.
Hot on the chances of Cloonacool
Cloonacool looks on a handy mark at present and worth an each-way wager 2m handicap hurdle (15.00).
The Stuart Edmunds trained gelding showed progressive form throughout 2014 when winning three times and looked better than ever on seasonal reappearance last year when landing a Listed class 1 handicap hurdle at Market Rasen by two lengths off a mark of 132.
Cloonacool then finished fifth of 11 to Nabucco in this contest off a mark of 136, but did well to be beaten just 5 1/2 lengths having made a bad mistake three from home when still going well.
The seven-year-old is now able to race off 1lb lower and comes into the contest on the back of a highly promising return to action at Market Rasen when taking into contention and looking all over the winner only to fall two from home.
It was an effort which suggested Cloonacool may well have more to offer this season and his current mark of 135 looks exploitable given that he has been placed over fences off 4lb higher.
Ascot tips for Saturday
13.55: Thomas Crapper
14.25: Pearls Legend (NB)
15.00: Cloonacool (E/W)
15.35: Saphir Du Rheu (NAP)
16.10: Clic Work
17.20: Coup De Pinceau