God's Own bids for Ascot glory after bypassing Haydock test
Tom George is hoping the decision to stick to what God's Own knows best pays dividends this weekend in the Stella Artois 1965 Chase at Ascot.
Connections were keen to step the multiple Grade One winner up to three miles in Haydock's Betfair Chase, but the likelihood of testing ground on Merseyside prompted a change in plan.
God's Own beat Vautour at Punchestown last season, following up another Grade One win at Aintree. He then made a perfectly satisfactory return to action in the Old Roan Chase, finishing second to Third Intention when conceding 16lb.
"He did a strong bit of work on Tuesday. He's full of it," said George.
"This year he seems better at this time of the season than he was last, when he started off quietly. The run at Aintree in the Old Roan Chase was very positive. He had bad luck in running there, but he started off in the form where he left off last season."
Kerry Lee has been desperate to get Kylemore Lough started this season and he had three options this week. He could have returned to Ireland having won a Grade One at Fairyhouse last spring, but the ground for the Clonmel Oil Chase was not deemed soft enough.
Kylemore Lough was also entered in the Shawbrook Handicap Chase over two miles at Ascot but Lee has gone for the Grade Two event instead.
"It's always quite tricky to get them spot-on first time out, but we've got our purpose-built all-weather gallop that he works on and it's all about keeping him sweet," said Lee.
"I'm very happy with him so far, but obviously the proof of the pudding will be in the eating."
Paul Nicholls is doubly represented by former Champion Chase hero Dodging Bullets and Vibrato Valtat. The champion trainer was satisfied with Dodging Bullets, who was third in the Haldon Gold Cup on his reappearance and he expects him to come on a good deal for that.
Vibrato Valtat was behind God's Own in the Old Roan and meets him on worse terms this weekend.
"Dodging Bullets worked great on Tuesday morning," Nicholls told At The Races.
"He's improved for that run and two-miles-five on that ground will suit, as will the race as he doesn't get a penalty, so he's actually nicely in. It looks a nice race on paper for him. I'm looking forward to it."
Nicky Richards sends Eduard from his Cumbrian base for his first run in over 600 days.
Before injury struck, Eduard proved he was a classy operator, finishing second in the Peterborough Chase and fourth in the Ryanair.
"Anything to do with the legs is a time game. You've just got to give them that time. He's had plenty of time and all has gone well," said Richards.
"No doubt he'll come on for the run, but he's ready to go."
Colin Tizzard's Old Roan winner Third Intention runs but will have to improve enormously to beat God's Own on 12lb worse terms for a length and three-quarters.
Philip Hobbs runs Royal Regatta, the mount of Tom O'Brien.
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Source: At The Races