There have been some notable winners of the Grade 1 Victor Chandler Chase in its 25-year history. The legendary Desert Orchid was successful in 1989 and champion chaser Viking Flagship won when the race was staged at Warwick in 1994. Arkle hero Well Chief also figures on the roll of honour and, of course, the brilliant Master Minded has been victorious twice. It’s probably fair to say this year’s renewal lacks some of the sparkle of years gone by but this week’s Ascot feature has still attracted some smart jumpers, one of which has the scope to be a top-class chaser for years to come.
Al Ferof (3/1 with bodog, sportingbet and William Hill) is only a seven-year-old and has had just two runs over fences. He’s won both, however, though had to be ridden all the way to the line to hold off For Non Stop in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown last time. It’s a bit of a worry that the runner-up has been beaten since but Paul Nicholls wouldn’t be running the grey in this exalted company if he didn’t think he could hold his own and he was a very progressive hurdler last season.
Finian’s Rainbow is the favourite for the Victor Chandler Chase at a general 15/8 following his defeat of Wishfull Thinking and Oiseau De Nuit at Kempton. That was a very pleasing comeback run from Nicky Henderson‘s gelding, who did well to recover from a serious error on the final circuit to win a shade cosily. He isn’t always foot-perfect and may always be a risky proposition at short odds in chases at this level but is undoubtedly the class act and it’s difficult to put up one to beat him at Ascot, though the reliable Wishfull Thinking looks a good each-way bet at Ladbrokes‘ 13/2.
Somersby (13/2 with Coral and Stan James) was only beaten a short-head by Master Minded in the race 12 months ago when Gauvain and I’m So Lucky were well behind. But all of his recent runs have been over longer trips while the stats are against all of the others in the contest. No horse aged over nine has won for more than 20 years and this year shouldn’t buck the trend. Forpadyplasterer (14/1 with Coral and Ladbrokes) hasn’t won for a very long time and appears on the downgrade while Gauvain, I’m So Lucky and Oiseau Du Nuit all look held on the form book. Finian’s Rainbow isn’t a one hundred per cent confident selection but should have enough to get the job done.