Bristol De Mai and Dashel Drasher headline seven runners in the £150,000 Fleur De Lys Chase (3.00pm, 2m 6f) at Lingfield Park on Sunday, January 23, the third and final day of the Winter Million.
Dashel Drasher was one of the success stories of last season, registering three successive victories at Ascot culminating with a two-length defeat of Master Tommytucker in the G1 Betfair Ascot Chase in February.
Jeremy Scott’s stable star also had the option of the £100,000 Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Hurdle on Sunday’s card after making a successful return to hurdling at Newbury in late December.
Scott said: “Dashel Drasher is very well. We schooled him on Thursday morning, which all went very well.
“Both races looked perfectly suitable options for the horse, but the owners were always keener to have a crack at the Fleur De Lys Chase. I had a discussion with them last night and this is where we decided to go.
“He should have as good a chance as anything in the race. The only worry would be the slightly longer trip on this ground, but he has coped with similar ground before.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ flagbearer Bristol De Mai has no such concerns in the conditions. Two of the 11-year-old’s three victories in the G1 Betfair Chase came on heavy ground, although he has a point to prove after being pulled up in the Haydock Park showpiece last time out.
The seven runners also include fellow G1-winning chaser Itchy Feet, who provided his trainer Olly Murphy with a first top-level success in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park in 2020.
Two For Gold and Fanion D’Estruval, trained by Kim Bailey and Venetia Williams respectively, both defied big weights in handicaps on their latest starts. Fanion D’Estruval is also declared to run at Ascot on Saturday.
Lieutenant Rocco, who makes his debut for Harriet Brown, has been sidelined since landing a three-mile novices’ chase at Ffos Las in February for Nick Mitchell.
Brewin’upastorm is out to atone for a last flight fall at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day in the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Hurdle (2.25pm, 2m 3f 110y). The opposition includes the enigmatic Goshen and the Gavin Cromwell-trained Darver Star, who made an impressive return to hurdling at Punchestown last month.
Cromwell and jockey Keith Donoghue combine earlier on the card with Wexford bumper scorer Fameaftertheglory in the £30,000 Winter Million Novices' Hurdle (1.20pm, 2m 7f). Ballygrifincottage for the Skeltons is the pick on form after finishing third behind Blazing Khal in a G2 contest at Cheltenham in December.
G1 King Henry VIII Novices’ Chase runner-up War Lord takes on four rivals in the £50,000 Cazoo Novices' Chase (1.50pm, 2m), including impressive Haydock Park victor Shakem Up’Arry.
German challenger Estacas bids to follow up a debut success at Ascot for Andrea Wohler in the opening £40,000 Winter Million Open National Hunt Flat Race (12.50pm, 2m). The All-Weather contest features five other last-time-out winners, including Our Jester and course scorer Swapped.
Stamina will be at a premium in the Racehorselotto.com Surrey National Handicap Chase (3.35pm) over an extended three and a half miles, for which there are 15 runners, while eight go in the concluding Winter Million Novices' Handicap Hurdle (4.08pm, 2m 3f 110y).