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Ascot preview: Le Mercurey looks a class act

David Metcalf | December 18, 2015

Le Mercurey created a big impression when making a winning debut over fences, so can take the step up into Grade 2 company in his stride to follow-up in the 2m 5f Mitie Novices’ Chase on today’s card at Ascot (14.30).

The gelding won two of his three starts over hurdles when trained in France, and shaped with plenty of promise in three starts last season after joining champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

In the last of those at the Cheltenham Festival, the five-year-old stayed on well after getting outpaced two from home to finish a seventh of 21 to Killultagh Vic in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

It was a cracking effort for one so inexperienced, and whatever Le Mercurey did over hurdles was going to be a bonus as he is a strapping sort who looks every inch a chaser.

Punters can land on Le Mercurey

Paul Nicholls

That view was confirmed when the highly-regarded son of Nickname easily beat Violet Dancer by six lengths at Plumpton last month.

Le Mercurey looked a natural over the larger obstacles, jumping well throughout before staying on strongly on the run-in to pull clear and win going away.

The pair pulled 25 lengths clear of the field, and runner-up is s useful sort who has come out and won since to give the form a boost.

It was a performance which suggested Le Mercurey needing keeping firmly onside, and he can get the better of Thomas Brown to take this en route to even better things.

Sebastian a Beach of a bet

Chepstow

In the 2m 5f handicap hurdle (15.05), Sebastian Beach looks decent value to take advantage of a drop in the weights and land the spoils.

The Jonjo O’Neill trained gelding shaped with bags of promisin his first two starts over hurdles when finishing in the frame behind rivals now rated 133 and 140, before making all to win easing down by 4 1/2 lengths at Chepstow.

Sebastian Beach was allotted an opening handicap mark of 129 on the back of that success, but failed to trouble the judge in his next three starts over the obstacles.

However, the four-year-old was thought good enough to run in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival and is now able to race in this class 3 contest off a mark of just 118.

That gives Sebastian Beach major claims from a handicapping perspective on the pick of his form, and the son of Yeats comes into the race having signalled that his time was near when an an eye-catching tenderly handled fourth at Chepstow earlier in the month.

Selections

12.50: Fly Du Charmil
13.20: Ballybolley
13.55: Yanworth
14.30: Le Mercurey (NAP)
15.05: Sebastian Beach (NB)
15.40: Ballyandy

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