Dashel Drasher, who started at 4-1, remains unbeaten in four races at Ascot after holding off a sustained challenge from Master Tommytucker to win the Grade One Ascot Chase here on Saturday, at the end of a dramatic race in which Cyrname, the 5-4 favourite, was pulled up with four fences still to jump.
Cyrname was soon in front as the five runners set off and initially at least, jumped and travelled with the enthusiasm that saw him run away with the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October.
When Matt Griffiths brought Dashel Drasher alongside the leader, however, he quickly stopped to nothing and was pulled up by Harry Cobden. Paul Nicholls, his trainer, still seemed to have the upper hand in the race as Master Tommytucker was travelling smoothly, but Daryl Jacob could not force him past Dashel Drasher, even when Jeremy Scott’s gelding started to tire in the closing stages.
The two-length success gave Griffiths the first Grade One win of his career, while it was only the second for Scott and the trainer’s first since 2013.
On a busy afternoon of Festival trials around the country, the sudden renaissance of Goshen as a serious contender for the Champion Hurdle on 16 March was the highlight of Wincanton’s card. Gary Moore’s five-year-old stormed clear of Song For Someone, the 11-10 favourite, to win the Kingwell Hurdle by 22 lengths easing down.
Having failed to win any of his previous three starts over jumps and on the Flat since a dramatic last-flight fall 11 months ago with the Triumph Hurdle at his mercy, Goshen set off at 100-30, but he made a mockery of his starting price as he powered clear of his field from three out.
Having started the season as a 5-1 shot for the Champion Hurdle and then drifted to 25-1 before Saturday’s race, Goshen is now back at around 5-1 for the feature event on the Festival’s opening day.
At Haydock, the Grand National Trial came down to the only runners in the race with an entry at Aintree as Lord Du Mesnil finally saw off the persistent Achille by half a length, but the bookmakers were unimpressed and make both horses around 40-1 for the National itself.
Lisnagar Oscar, meanwhile, was clipped to repeat last year’s success in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham despite finishing only second to Third Wind in the Rendlesham Hurdle. The winner was getting 6lb from Lisnagar Oscar, who was a 50-1 shot last season but is now around 16-1 (from around 25-1) to double up.
Hollie Doyle is building towards a potential challenge for the Flat jockeys’ title later this year and will return from the Saudi Cup meeting in Riyadh having banked the most valuable success of her career after her victory on Willie Mullins’s True Self in the Neom Turf Cup.
The race was worth £440,000 to the winner, twice as much as the Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot which Doyle won aboard Glen Shiel last October.