Classico turns on the style at Ascot

By Sports Desk November 25, 2023

Chianti Classico was the toast of Ascot having successfully continued his chasing education in the Royal Ascot Racing Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

A winner of all but one of his outings as a novice hurdler, Kim Bailey’s six-year-old made a successful transition to the larger obstacles at Chepstow last month.

However, he faced a tough task when sent off the 4-5 favourite for this three-runner assignment, having to concede over a stone in weight on the quickest ground he has encountered so far.

Although not at his slickest over his obstacles at points in the three-mile event, his class came to the fore when it mattered as he pulled three-quarters of a length clear of Scrum Diddly after the last.

“That ground was probably quick enough for him and he was not enjoying the ground at all,” said Bailey.

“He has only run on softer ground so fingers crossed he is OK tomorrow.

“It’s a tough performance as he has given lumps of weight away on a day it hasn’t gone right for him. He can see he was landing and not very happy with it.

“His class got him through, definitely, he’s a decent animal. It was a big experience, last time we wanted to drop him right out and get his jumping right and today he couldn’t do it and couldn’t afford to get any further behind.

“He’s won well and at the end of the day he has won, that’s all that matters.”

Chianti Classico is part-owned by Sir Francis Brooke, His Majesty’s Representative and chairman of Ascot and a return to the track for the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase in the early part of next year could be the ideal opportunity for the gelding to test himself at Graded level.

“We’ll see how he is over the next week and he takes a lot out of himself in his races,” continued Bailey.

“He’s not a horse he can run in a hurry and it will be two months before he runs again whatever happens.

“That would be the ideal race for him and timewise that (the Reynoldstown) fits in very well.”

Another exciting prospect enhancing his reputation was Paul Nicholls’ Farnoge (4-1) who beat some smart opponents to win the Bet With Ascot Donation Box Scheme Novices’ Hurdle.

Second to Gordon Elliott’s Better Days Ahead in a point-to-point before switching to Ditcheat, he is now unbeaten in three starts under rules with his rider Harry Cobden expecting bigger and better things later in the year.

“I can see him being a Graded horse,” said Cobden after the two-and-a-quarter-length success.

“We will have to get home and speak to the boss and see what he thinks, but he’s very smart.

“He went to Newton Abbot when he was probably 75-80 per cent fit and had a nice canter round there and he’s done the same again here against some useful horses behind him, it’s exciting.

“He would be right up there in the top five (novices at Ditcheat). 100 per cent. He will definitely be in Graded races and he’s had a 5lb penalty today as well.”

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