A new year or racing at Ascot gets underway on Saturday 23rd January with an exciting afternoon of high-class Jumps racing featuring the Matchbook Clarence House Chase.
The prestigious Grade 1 contest regularly attracts some of the most elite two-mile chasers in training. Among those to have won the Clarence House are eight winners of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, four of whom - Viking Flagship, Master Minded, Sprinter Sacre and Altior - hold the added distinction of having won the Cheltenham showpiece twice.
Two particularly notable names on the race’s illustrious roll of honour are the legendary Desert Orchid and the hugely popular three-time winner Un De Sceaux, who in the 2020 renewal - the ten-time Grade 1 winner’s final start before retirement - finished second to Philip Hobbs’ young pretender Defi Du Seuil in one of the season’s most hotly-anticipated clashes.
Defi Du Seuil is back to defend his crown this year, but he will come up against a high quality field of eight, including reigning Champion Chaser, Politologue and winner of the 2018 Ascot Chase, Waiting Patiently.
The card also includes a Grade 2 Mares’ Hurdle - registered as The Warfield - which in recent years has been won by Grade 1 winners Vroum Vroum Mag, Bitofapuzzle and La Bague Au Roi as well as Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light, the winner of the last two renewals who is taking aim at a hat-trick of victories this year.
A particularly eye-catching performance on this day in 2020 came from the Gary Moore-trained Goshen , who seemingly cemented his claims for Cheltenham Festival glory when running away with the Juvenile Hurdle on the card, his facile 11-length victory taking his unbeaten run over hurdles to three. Agonisingly however, with the race at his mercy, the four-year-old unseated at the last in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle that March.