Finian's Rainbow set to descend upon Ascot Racecourse
Published: 21 Nov 2012 10:350 comments
Finian's Rainbow de-throned Ireland's Sizing Europe in the two-mile showpiece at the Cheltenham Festival in March before signing off for the campaign with victory in the Melling Chase at Aintree.
One of just a handful of stars at Nicky Henderson's Seven Barrows base in Upper Lambourn, West Berkshire, the nine year old is set to go in the Grade Two Amlin 1965 Chase, run over two miles and three furlongs.
It will, however, be a tough ask to defy a 225-day lay-off in what looks a competitive renewal with For Non Stop, so impressive in the Old Roan Chase last month, likely to oppose.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has entered Ghizao who failed to live up to a high reputation last winter.
Captain Chris, Champion Court and French Opera - stablemate to Finain's Rainbow - are others worthy of consideration.
Saturday's feature is supported by the Grade Two Coral Hurdle which is also shaping up to be a competitive and informal affair.
Henderson has the option of saddling Oscar Whisky, who took a heavy fall at the last hurdle when challenging for the lead in last season's renewal, as well as Darlan, who was withdrawn from an original engagement at Cheltenham last weekend due to testing conditions.
The ultra-consistent Get Me Out Of Here could represent Gold Cup winning connections, JP McManus, Jonjo O'Neil and AP McCoy.
But they could all be thwarted by the likes of Brampour and Ascot specialist Raya Star.
Henderson, currently trailing Nicholls by around £300,000 in the race for the trainer's championship, has left classy duo Tanks For That and Petit Robin in the Class 2, Carey Group Handicap Chase, the last race to be shown live on Channel 4 racing (3:20pm).
Berkshire Media Group, which includes Bracknell News amongst its titles, sponsors the opening race on Friday's six-race card, a Class 3 National Hunt Maiden Hurdle.
Point-to-point winners Kaki De La Pree and Minella Forfitness could represent Henderson and owner Michael Buckley.
Elsewhere, Henderson - who is in search of his very first trainer's title - sends Long Run, winner of the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup to Haydock Park for the Grade One Betfair Chase.
Long Run was beaten by 'King' Kauto Star in the three-mile slog last term and will face stiff opposition from Nicholls-trained entries this season in the form of Silviniaco Conti and Tidal Bay.
The Giant Bolster beat Long Run for second place in this year's Gold Cup and will also re-oppose.
For Ascot tickets and information please visit www.ascot.co.uk.
Bracknell News tips: Ascot (Friday) 12:55pm Kaki De La Pree or Minella Forfitness; (Saturday) 2:10pm, For Non Stop; 2:45pm Oscar Whisky; Haydock Park (Saturday) 3:05pm Silviniaco Conti.