There has been a significant betting move on Brain Power to win the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday but if the favourite Un De Sceaux stands up the Willie Mullins trained runner cannot be beaten. The plunge on Brain Power may be ground related but on ratings Un de Sceaux has more than ten pounds in hand over the second favourite. Brain Power is a novice with just one win over fences but Un De Sceaux is proven at the highest level and should prevail in this Grade 1 contest.
The race offers total prize money of £150,000 so a field of just five runners is a poor turnout. Bookmakers will settle each way bets on the first two places and only in races with eight runners or more are there three payout places. If one runner is withdrawn it will be win only which is a nightmare for bookmakers and unattractive for punters. The Clarence House looks like a match between the two market leaders but the odds contraction on Brain Power means San Benedeto offers some value at 20/1.
The key race in the context of San Benedoto’s prospects is the Grade 1 novices’ chase at Aintree last April. Politologue could have had the race won when stumbling after the final face. The horse had a narrow advantage and was being pressed by San Benedoto who won the race with Charbel 13 lengths adrift in third place. That horse was giving Altior a race at the Cheltenham Festival when falling two out. Politilogue is now a leading contender for the Champion Chase so San Benedeto is not without a chance at Ascot and can be backed at 20/1.
Strictly on the book Un De Sceaux is a comfortable winner but horse racing is not an exact science. The Irish raider won the Ryanair Chase at the Festival last year and that is the best form on offer in Saturday’s race. Un De Secaux has won the last two renewals of Saturday’s race and there has not been a three-time winner. In fact he is the only horse to win the contest in consecutive years and on the book can win it again this time.
The move on Brain Power is not based on form on the track. There have been reports of brilliant work at home and maybe the word has got out. Bookmakers have sources of information and customers are monitored. There may have been bets from “wise guys” who are used as marks. If a known shrewd punter backs a horse there will often be a price reduction and momentum build. Brain Power will be more suited to projected underfoot conditions than Un De Sceaux.
Kylemore Lough was pulled up last time out when fancied in the big handicap chase at Cheltenham before Christmas. On ratings Speredek is making up the numbers so this is a three horse race. Ante post betting suggests Un De Sceaux and Brain Power will be fighting out the finish but San Benedoto has a piece of form in the book to suggest he can cause an upset and win the Clarence House chase at a working man’s price. That would mean the money on Brain Power has been misplaced.