Only four horses feature in Saturday's Clarence House Chase betting, but each is a multiple Grade 1 winner, with the top two among history's most outstanding chasers of all-time.
When elder statesman Un De Sceaux met new kid on the block Altior in the Tingle Creek last December, it turned into one of the races of the season.
Altior, unbeaten in 9 runs over fences that day, was pushed to the very limit by the front-running 11-year-old, not hitting the front until after the last, where he soared to a four-length win.
|Altior||vs||Un De Sceaux|
|7||Grade 1 wins||9|
|5||Grade 2 wins||5|
|1/111-11||Last six runs||11211-2|
That came on Un De Sceaux's favoured soft ground, so it might be hard for him to reverse the form at Ascot in the Clarence House Chase, although his good-ground record is hardly terrible – indeed the surface was fairly sound when he won the Champion Chase at the Punchestown Festival last April.
The Irish raider is one of the most popular chasers of our time, and a three-time winner of the Clarence House Chase. If nothing else, he will fill the stands and give his all for those loyal supporters. But Altior has his following too; the reigning Cheltenham Champion Chase winner extended his overall unbeaten run to 16 at Kempton in December.
Will it be 17 come Saturday evening? It's very hard to say it won't, given his price of 2/7 in the Clarence House Chase betting - and the odds of 4/7 available for him to win a second Champion Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.
At the time of writing, Altior is as short as 1/5 in the Clarence House Chase betting. If the race is as simple as the betting says, then perhaps a distance market might be the best bet – Ascot’s long closing straight could see him stretch away.
He's won 17 races, just two by less than three lengths, and the majority by six or more. Discounting the match-race he beat Black Corton in by 63 lengths, Altior has won 16 races by an average of 9 3/4 lengths.
From his runs on galloping tracks like Ascot, he's won 12 races by an average of 7 3/4 lengths, so betting on Altior to win by seven lengths could be a good bet. There should be some decent winning distance markets at the likes of Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power. Wait until after declarations on Thursday, then place your bet.
However, Fox Norton is as short as 10/1 for the 2m5f Ryanair Chase (though Betfair do offer a standout 20/1 at this exact moment), and his performance at Ascot could be informative to watch, given he's taking on the 2017 winner and 2018 runner-up Un De Sceaux - and hasn't run for 13 months.
Fox Norton could well be a Champion Chase winner had he gotten going even a half second earlier when failing to catch Special Tiara in the 2017 renewal. Afterwards he was a mighty impressive winner of the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree, stepping up to 2m4f for the first time.
He then dropped back in trip to 2m to beat Un De Sceaux in the Punchestown Champion Chase, and won over that distance again since, but hasn't been seen since disappointed in the 2017 King George Chase VI Chase when going up to 3m.
He has won after breaks of 144, 192, and 208 days, but how ready trainer Colin Tizzard can have him for a blistering 2m charge around Ascot after 389 days away remains to be seen.
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