As the count down to the King George continues, quality action is expected at Ascot this weekend
Saturday man Philip Hobbs can maintain his winning December run through to Christmas by saddling Lord Brex to win the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday, the final fixture before the festive season.
Somerset-based Hobbs started by carrying off the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury with What’s Up Boys on the first Saturdayof the month and followed up seven days later with Flagship Uberalles, so impressive in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
When last Saturday’s big Cheltenham meeting was abandoned Hobbs had to content himself with Bow Strada’s victory in a Doncaster novice hurdle.
He now gets a chance of the limelight again courtesy of Lord Brex who is reported fighting fit and ready to run for his life, despite an absence of over seven months.
If Hobbs can work the oracle with him here it will be a training feat to surpass even those with What’s Up Boys and Flagship Uberalles.
The 17-strong field is full of dangers, the pick of which may be Martin Pipe’s Westender and Hughie Morrison’s Marble Arch.
Pipe has re-routed Shooting Light from frost-bound Cheltenham to the Tote Silver Cup, but over this extended three miles he may find the Nicky Henderson-trained DuskDuel too strong.
Dusk Duel’s reappearance here last month when he finished third behind Wahiba Sands and Best Mate was packed with promise.
It may be worth pointing out that Paul Nicholls believes his Whitbread Gold Cup winner Ad Hoc could be up to Gold Cup class. Ad Hoc is still in the King George V1 Chase at Kempton on BoxingDay but cannot run here and again on Wednesday.
Course specialist Get Real, a stable companion of Dusk Duel, may have been given a chance by the handicapper in the Santa Claus Handicap Chase. Wahiba Sands and Redemption will make it a competitive event, but Get Real loves jumping round here and has virtually made Ascot his second home.
The Pipe-A P McCoy combination, a standing dish on most Saturdays, should take the novice hurdle with Tarxien and the Cantor Sport Novices’ Chase with Seebald.