There is top class jumps racing at Down Royal, Wetherby & Ascot this afternoon.

Many horses are having their first runs of the season so we take on trust that they are fit and ready to run good races.

Paul Nicholls has his first-time out runners well forward fitness wise as we saw with Frodon winning last weekend. Black Corton is tasked with carrying top weight but is used to that job and jumps well for Bryony Frost. Last year in this race Vinndication pushed the pace up front not allowing Black Corton get his own way. This year is it likely Black Corton will be allowed dictate matters. He is fine on good to soft or soft ground, so the ground is not a problem. All of the runners are having their first run of the season except for Townshend. That gives Black Corton a big chance of reversing placings with Regal Encore, who usually needing his first run of the season.

Townshend has had a spin over hurdles at Perth when tiring over the final furlongs and allowed come home in his own time. There is some heavy showers forecast tomorrow afternoon and soft ground would suit this horse very nicely. He has a featherweight of 10-4 less a further 7lbs thanks to Jamie Neild riding. Jamie got a great tune out of Townshend last January when he won an amateur rider’s handicap chase over course and distance. The ground was heavy that day, so we know he has the stamina for this course and stiff three-mile trip. Our selection is not the most consistent but at a big price he is worth backing with many of these eyeing future targets.

Ascot - 3:40 (Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase)

0.5 Point EACH WAY Black Corton (11/2 Skybet & William Hill, both paying 5 places)

0.5 Point EACH WAY Townshend (20/1 Paddy Power, Skybet & William Hill, all three paying 5 places)

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