Yalltari looks worth a bet at 11/2 with 888sport to provide red-hot handler Venetia Williams with another winner in the Listed 3m Ascot Silver Cup at the Berkshire venue this Saturday (15:00).
This eight-year-old has won four of his nine career starts, revels in the mud and remains unexposed as a chaser after just four outings over the larger obstacles.
After running well when runner-up on chasing debut at Chepstow first time up last season, Yalltari made all on soft ground at the same venue and cosily beating Bob Mahler by 2 1/2 lengths.
He then fell at the first when sent off favourite to follow-up at Exeter. Yalltari went on to round off the campaign with a cracking third to Mister Malarky in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase over this course and distance.
After tracking the leaders and taking up the running three from home, he was chasing down the leader only to blunder at the final flight.
That error stopped Yalltari in his tracks, so it was to his credit that he only weakened late on the run-in to be beaten just over five lengths.
He now meets the winner on 3lb better terms, so given how the race panned out it may well be enough to see him turn the tables.
A rating of 145 should not be beyond the son of Kayf Tara, who has a 57 per cent strike rate on soft/heavy ground. Another plus is that he has a good record fresh.
So, with Williams operating an an incredible strike rate of 48 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing, there is simply nothing not to like about Yalltari’s chances in this.
Ground concerns for Mister Malarky
The aforementioned Mister Malarky commands plenty of respect now dropped back in grade, but the big worry is whether he will cope with the very testing underfoot conditions?
This Colin Tizzard trained six-year-old progressed throughout last season when winning three of his six starts.
After landing the Reynoldstown here, connections then pitched Mister Malarky into the Grade 1 RSA at the Cheltenham Festival.
He was far from disgraced in finishing a keeping 18 1/4 lengths fourth of 12 to Topofthegame.
Mister Malarky then went on to round off the campaign with a fine five-length second of 18 to the well-treated Kildisart in a Grade 3 handicap chase at the Aintree Grand National Festival off a mark of 147. He is able to race in this off just 1lb higher.
Although Mister Malarky failed to shine when a well-beaten 12th of 16 to Vinndication in the Sodexo Gold Cup over course and distance on seasonal reappearance, he left that performance well behind last time out.
He was a solid 11 1/4 length sixth of 24 to De Rasher Counter in the valuable Grade 3 Ladbrokes Trophy over 3m 2f at Newbury.
Mister Malarky held every chance until weakening two from home, so the drop back to 3m is an obvious plus.
The Ascot Silver Cup is also far less competitive, but all his best form has come on ground no worse than good-to-soft.
Mister Malarky therefore looks opposable on that basis alone at odds of 6/1 with Unibet.
Kildisart a big player in Ascot Silver Cup
Valtor landed the spoils 12 month ago for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. The same owners look to have another leading contender this time around in the shape of the progressive Ben Pauling trained Kildisart.
This seven-year-old enjoyed a terrific time last season when winning three of his five starts over fences and showing improved form on each occasion.
After finishing a fine fourth to Defi Du Seuil in what has turned out to be a very hot renewal of the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, the son of Dubai Destination went on to round off the campaign with a very impressive success in a Grade 3 handicap chase at the Aintree Grand National Festival.
Kildisart was held-up at the rear of the 18-runner field until making stealthy headway approaching the fourth last.
He then made a mistake at that obstacle, but quickly recovered and after taking up the running at the last only had to be driven out to beat Mister Malarky by five lengths.
Although now 5lb worse off at the weights with that rival, Kildisart scored with plenty in hand and comes into this on the back of a promising third to subsequent Betfair Chase winner Lostintransaltion in a graduation chase at Carlisle.
He should now be fully-tuned to do himself justice. Other pluses are that Kildisart has proven form on soft ground and has won two of his four starts at this venue.
At odds of 13/2 with Betfred, he thus looks a solid each-way contender and may well emerge as the biggest threat to Yalltari.