After plenty of rain this week, Ascot are now preparing themselves for the temperatures to drop ahead of Saturday's Royal Salute Whisky Clarence House Chase (3.35pm).
Frost covers are set to be deployed to ensure that the meeting goes ahead without any hiccups and when they are eventually lifted, the soft ground beneath them will be hard work for some.
But that news will be music to the ears of last year’s winner UN DE SCEAUX who returns in an attempt to win the race for a third successive year with conditions very much in his favour.
Willie Mullins’ 10-year-old has only won one of his four career starts on good ground, but is an extraordinary 18 from 21 when the word soft appears in the going description.
Two years ago, he beat Sire De Grugy by five lengths in similar conditions and last year, when the race was rescheduled and run at Cheltenham, he beat Uxizandre by the same margin.
Having won a Racing Post Arkle Chase, a Ryanair Chase and having finished second to Sprinter Sacre in a Queen Mother Champion Chase in between those two efforts, he is a horse that doesn’t necessarily receive the accolades he deserves.
He won easily at Cork on his reappearance last month and I expect him to start closer to 1/2 than the 4/6 currently available with Coral.
The reason for what looks a potentially generous price is the plunge on second favourite Brain Power that has seen his price collapse from 8/1 earlier in the week to as short as 9/4 in places.
Nicky Henderson’s talented novice chaser was an impressive winner of a valuable handicap hurdle at the track a couple of years ago, but has only had the two starts over the bigger obstacles.
Everything went to script on his debut at Kempton, but he ended up on the floor in the Henry VIII Chase at Sandown last time when ridden too aggressively from the front.
David Mullins is replaced in the saddle by stable jockey Nico de Boinville who will track the pace and hope to pounce on Un De Sceaux late on.
I can understand the logic of connections in trying their hand in a race like this, but he is woefully short considering he meets Un De Sceaux off level weights.
It would be a major shock in my eyes if he, or anything else for that matter, were good enough to stop the hattrick attempt.
The Harry Fry-trained Acting Lass has been heading the ante-post betting for the bet365 Handicap Chase (3.00pm).
He was certainly impressive at Leicester last month and off just a 2lb higher mark, he shouldn’t be too far away.
If Venetia Williams had her horses in better form, I’d be tempted to side with topweight Tenor Nivernais as he loves Ascot and goes so well fresh.
However, her horses certainly aren’t firing on all cylinders and for that reason I’d rather look elsewhere.
Lucinda Russell’s Forest des Aigles has racked up three wins on the bounce, but I’m worried conditions won’t be bad enough for him.
Anyway, if Haydock gets the green light, I’d expect him to line-up in the Peter Marsh Chase instead where the ground will be heavy.
Therefore, I’m prepared to take an each-way chance on Emma Lavelle’s FORTUNATE GEORGE at a juicy looking 14/1.
He may be the complete outsider in most lists, but the three miles stretched him a little last time and this trip will be more to his liking.
Soft ground was the making of him over hurdles and this will be the first time on his sixth start over fences that he has his favoured conditions.
When you consider that he seems to show his best form around Ascot, he looks worth taking a risk on.
POINTERS – SATURDAY
Fortunate George e/w 3.00pm Ascot
Un De Sceaux 3.35pm Ascot