The Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at 3.00pm at Ascot on Saturday is the main race on a big afternoon for jumps fans. Once again ITV Racing will be covering the action with their new show and the Willie Mullins trained Un De Sceaux, who won this race in fine style in 2016, returns to the Berkshire track and again, it is a Gary Moore trained horse proving to be the strongest market rival.
Ar Mad was pitched right in at the deep for his first start of the season when he tackled the Grade 1 Tingle Creek at Sandown Park in early December and he showed all of his flair from the season before for the most part.
He jumped into a clear lead and all was going well, but small errors started to creep up down the back straight, allowing his rivals to make up a ground on him. At the eighth fence he made a notable mistake and lost some ground, but showed guts to rally and get back on terms as the race began to unfold.
The seven-year-old stayed on well to finish a close-up fourth at Sandown that day and has been well supported in the horse racing betting this week to show some improvement and get the better of Un De Sceaux this time around. If it wasn’t for those errors at Sandown he could have won last time out and there’s no reason Ascot shouldn’t suit him better.
Tactics will be interesting here, Ar Mad has shown such a liking toward front running, but will connections aim for more restraint and focus on their horse getting into a rhythm? Top Gamble, Royal Regatta, Dodging Bullets and Special Tiara are likely to make up the remainder of the field, but for all intents and purposes this looks like a straight match up between the two at the top of betting market.
Un De Sceaux is understandably a shade of odds-on to confirm the form over Ar Mad and land another Grade 1 to add to his collection. But Ar Mad looks poised to give him a big race here and at 2/1 Gary Moore’s rising force could be the one to side with.