Plenty of interesting fare at Ascot today and, while CAPELAND (3.20) is not in the same league as Altior or Cyrname in ability or popularity terms, he could draw the biggest cheer of the day should he triumph in the Hurst Park Handicap Chase.
For he looked the unluckiest loser of the season at this track a few weeks back and is a maximum each way investment to pick up compensation now. Perhaps it just wasn't his day as he had to survive some traffic issues in running at an earlier stage, but he seemed to be cruising into contention for Bryony Frost when carried wide and out of contention by stablemate and eventual winner Diego Du Charmil.
Rough luck by any standards, but the handicapper clearly has a heart and he runs off the same mark, a very workable 143, today. Clipped from 10 to "eights" he was not unfancied last time, and unless the incident has left mental scars - unlikely in this typically tough Paul Nicholls sort - he has obvious chances of a happier outcome now, and it's interesting that Harry Cobden replaces Frost this time. That's probably a shock for some at the Racing Post who seem to think Frost is in the Francome, McCoy or Ruby league, but there you go, Nicholls does not do sentiment.
Indeed he has Diego Du Charmil lining up again and, even from a 6 lbs. higher rating, he must be respected. The Last Day was a winning 2/1 jolly at Aintree in his first run since March. He clearly caught the eye of the handicapper and runs off a much higher mark now, but the seven year old certainly has scope for further improvement. Knocknanuss is another who impressed on his seasonal bow when a close third to Saint Calvados at Cheltenham and further progress is likely, though perhaps Vaniteux, second in that contest on the Cotswolds, is a bigger threat particularly as Sean Houlihan can claim 3 lbs.
Speredek has his moments but should be at least double the 8/1 odds currently on offer, while Ballywood unseated earlier in that race where Capeland literally got carried away and is hard to assess.
It's a typical Saturday big handicap where a case can be made for so many, but Capeland looks set for a much smoother passage this time.
Ascot - 3:20
1 Point EACH WAY Capeland (4/1 generally)
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