The second day of the Christmas Racing Weekend is one of Ascot’s most valuable and prestigious jump fixtures of the season with almost £450,000 of prize money on offer.
A typically high quality cast of horses will assemble as a result, headlined by Paisley Park in the Grade One Marsh Hurdle, one of the premier races for staying hurdlers in the calendar. Officially known as the Long Walk Hurdle, Emma Lavelle’s popular son of Oscar bids to become the fifth multiple winner of the race, joining the likes of Reve De Sivola, Big Buck’s and Baracouda.
Paisley Park swept all before him in the division last year, winning this race before going on to claim victory at the Cheltenham Festival in the Stayers’ Hurdle. He’ll be a very warm order to see off a maximum of five rivals, although two of those are also Grade One winners over hurdles in the shape of The Worlds End and L’Ami Serge. The ultra-consistent Tobefair steps up into top level company for the first time while Papagana and Agrapart both have winning form on heavy ground and could run well at big prices.
The £100,000 Dave Dawes Silver Cup dates back to the year jump racing was introduced at Ascot in 1965 and a year later it was won by the great Arkle himself, the final victory in the career of the highest rated steeple chaser in the history of the sport.
It frequently produces a Grand National contender or two and the likes of Give Me A Copper and Mister Malarky could well have the Aintree race as their end of season target if things go to plan. Black Corton carries top weight under Bryony Frost while Regal Encore, winner of this race in 2016 looks well treated if he can rekindle some of his old form.
The final race on the card is the Betfair Exchange Trophy, one of the most valuable and important two mile handicap hurdles in the calendar. A wide open looking renewal, there are any number of horses that could make the frame including last year’s winner Mohaayed who runs off the same mark and looks to have been aimed at the race once again.
Turnpike Trip is an intriguing runner from Ireland having been fourth behind top novice Envoi Allen last time out while Tamaroc Du Mathan also makes his handicap debut as a novice for champion trainer Paul Nicholls. Harambe was the ante-post favourite after landing the Greatwood Hurdle for Alan King last month at Cheltenham and he won’t be far away.