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Carole’s Spirit to out-battle rivals in mares’ hurdle at Ascot

The Clarence House Chase is the highlight of an excellent card at Ascot on Saturday with Sire De Grugy bidding to claim his second Grade 1 prize of the season. Gary Moore’s popular chestnut claimed the Tingle Creek at Sandown with Somersby four lengths back in second.

Mick Channon’s gelding re-opposes here on the same terms but does have a good record at Ascot including victory in this race in 2012. Hidden Cyclone showed improved form in Ireland recently and has been well supported in the betting market this week.

The televised action starts at 1.50 with a Grade 2 mares’ hurdle over three miles. With the going expected to be heavy, this will prove a gruelling test of stamina and it may pay to side with Carole’s Spirit.

Robert Walford’s six-year-old is as tough as old boots and simply refused to give in at Haydock last time when getting back up to beat As I Am. She won hard held in heavy ground at Plumpton so should not be inconvenienced by the ground.

Henry Daly’s Mickie is the one to beat after she won nicely off a mark of 135 at Kempton. She has won over this distance but is yet to encounter ground quite as testing as this.

The Skyfarmer is going for a fifth consecutive victory in the handicap hurdle at 2.25 but may be anchored by a massive 17lbs rise in the weights. Citizenship has been reassessed 8lbs higher for his Exeter win and that may not stop him from following up for Venetia Williams.

The Williams and Treadwell team could also take the 3.00 race with the improving Renard. The improving nine-year-old is up 9lbs for his Chepstow victory but is another that will handle the conditions.

Paul Nicholls will be looking for an improved performance from Grandioso who was heavily backed for the December Gold Cup only to be pulled up. Harry Derham who did such a good job on Saphir Du Rheu last weekend takes off a handy 5lbs.

Selections: 12.40 Handiwork, 1.15 Kingcora, 1.50 Carole’s Spirit, 2.25 Citizenship, 3.00 Renard, 3.35 Sire De Grugy, 4.05 Champagne West