There aren’t many weeks that go by during the National Hunt season without a top staying handicap on the racing menu, and the run up to Christmas is no different with this excellent offering from Ascot, the Silver Cup.
This has been one of the classiest events of its type in the past, with previous winners including Cheltenham Gold Cup kings, Arkle and Cool Dawn. Whilst it is rare to see a runner in that bracket line up these days, the race does invariably still attract a high-quality field.
First run back in 1965, the Ascot Silver Cup forms part of the course’s richest day of jump racing alongside the Long Walk Hurdle and the Betfair Trophy.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 19th December 2020
- Winner: Mister Malarky
- SP: 16/1
- Trainer: Colin Tizzard
- Jockey: Harry Cobden
Three miles is the trip for this Listed Handicap Chase on Saturday that is open to all chasers aged four years and older. There is £60,000 in total prize money is up for grabs and the ground at the track is currently described as soft, though it could be heavy in places by the time the race runs and it will certainly be a test of stamina.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||3m||Listed||£60,000||11 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Ascot Silver Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Josh Gifford and Nicky Henderson are currently tied at the top of the trainers’ table in this race on four wins apiece. Gifford is of course long since retired meaning that Henderson will claim the lead for himself should his sole entry, Beware The Bear, come home in front in this year’s renewal.
A number of great horses have landed this prize in the past, none better than the mighty Arkle who conquered the field 1966. There has however been only one horse to date who has claimed top spot on more than one occasion. Already in the history books courtesy of wins in 2016 and 2019, Anthony Honeyball’s Regal Encore returns for another crack at the prize this year at the grand old age of 12.
This contest has seen a couple of shocks in the past two years, with Regal Encore winning at 16/1 12 months ago and Valtor defying odds of 33/1 when coming home in front in 2018. Overall the past decade has featured three winning favourites or joint favourites, handing supporters of the market leader a loss of £1.63 to £1 level stakes.
|Espoir De Guye||4/1||11st 5lbs||Venetia Williams||Charlie Deutsch|
|Quarenta||6/1||10st 11lbs||Jonjo O’Neill||Jonjo O’Neill Jr|
|Beware The Bear||11/1||11st 12lbs||Nicky Henderson||Jeremiah McGrath|
Espoir De Guye – 4/1
Venetia Williams saddled the classy Houblon Des Obeaux to win this back in 2013 and has been knocking on the door of a second success having since sent out runners to finish second and third. The Hertfordshire handler sends just the one into battle this time around, but one may be all she needs, with her six year old Espoir De Guye boasting an attractive profile coming into the event.
Taking a little while to come to the boil having joined the yard from France in November 2018, this bay gelding really began to find his stride last season in winning back-to-back contests at Exeter and significantly when hosing up by 10 lengths in a 2m3f event at this track. A pulled-up effort at the Cheltenham Festival was a disappointing way to end the campaign, but the fact that he then had his wind tinkered with over the summer does suggest something may have been amiss.
All certainly seems to be well once again now anyway, with Espoir De Guye having returned from a 255 day break to score over 2m5f, once again at this track, last time out. He is up six pounds up for a half-length winning margin, which doesn’t make life easy, but having been repeatedly hampered by a loose horse on the run-in, there’s a decent argument that he was value for a bit more than that narrow verdict. The three furlong step up in trip poses a question, but he does shape as though he will stay and can be expected to improve for that first run of the campaign.
Quarenta – 6/1
Jonjo O’Neill has already hit the target in one of the season’s big handicaps courtesy of Cloth Cap’s impressive success in the Ladbrokes Trophy, and looks to have strong claims of taking another big Saturday pot back home to Jackdaws Castle. Flying the flag for O’Neill in this is the promising eight year old, Quarenta.
A 125-rated hurdler, this one has proven to be a significantly better performer over the larger obstacles, winning four of his 11 starts to date – the latest of which pushes him up to a mark of 142 headed into this. It is that latest success which makes the Voix Du Nord gelding particularly interesting here, coming as it did over this very course and distance on his seasonal return in November. Much like Espoir De Guye, Quarenta didn’t win by far that day – only a head – but watching the race back he could be called the winner some way from home so well was he travelling. Jonjo O’Neill Jnr only needed hands and heels riding to get to the front that day, only resorting to the whip very close to home to keep his mount’s mind on the job. A five pound rise doesn’t look harsh on the back of that and he seems unlikely to be far away at the business end here.
Beware The Bear – 11/1
Sophie Leech’s French recruit Enfant Roi could be dangerous getting in off 132, but the form from across the Channel can be a little difficult to put into context. As such, the most interesting runner from amongst those at double figure prices may well be Nicky Henderson’s Beware The Bear, particularly with his handler boasting such a good record in this – including two wins in the past three years.
Now 10 years old, Beware the Bear boasts plenty of form in big staying handicaps such as this, most notably when staying on powerfully to land the 2019 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival from a mark of 151, with Lakeview Lad, Vintage Clouds and Magic Of Light amongst those in behind. He is in off 156 here, but that is still two pounds lower than when running a cracker to be beaten by a margin of just two and a quarter lengths into fourth place in last season’s Ladbrokes Trophy.
His fifth place finish in the 2020 edition of that Newbury event on his seasonal return was by no means a bad effort considering the ground was far quicker than he likes it, and should at least serve to put him spot on for this. Likely to be doing all of his best work late, he rates a big threat to all if close enough as they turn for home.
Ascot Silver Cup Winners
|2020||Mister Malarky||16/1||Colin Tizzard||Harry Cobden|
|2019||Regal Encore||16/1||Anthony Honeyball||Richie McLernon|
|2018||Valtor||33/1||Nicky Henderson||James Bowen|
|2017||Gold Present||17/2||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|2016||Regal Encore||20/1||Anthony Honeyball||Barry Geraghty|
|2015||Wakanda||8/1||Sue Smith||Danny Cook|
|2014||The Young Master||3/1||Neil Mulholland||Barry Geraghty|
|2013||Houblon Des Obeaux||6/4||Venetia Williams||Aidan Coleman|
|2012||Wyck Hill||4/1||David Bridgewater||Tom Scudamore|
|2011||The Minack||11/4||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
About The Ascot Silver Cup
When you mention Ascot the first thing that comes to any horse racing fan’s mind is the leading Flat racing meeting, Royal Ascot. The racecourse at Ascot is multi-faceted though and also plays host to a number of top class National Hunt races.
The Ascot Silver Cup is one such race. It’s a Listed handicap steeplechase which is run over a distance of about 3 miles (2 miles 7 furlongs and 180 yards, if you’re counting) and takes in 20 fences around Ascot’s Hunt course.
It’s the Hunt course that should be the first port of call for any punter looking for a winning Silver Cup bet. The right handed course is a particularly challenging one for many horses who struggle with its galloping nature combined with very testing fences. Navigating those fences at the sort of speeds horses tend to go round Ascot, even in a 3 mile contest, requires excellent jumping ability and it’s that which tends to set successful horses apart from the rest in the Silver Cup.
The other challenge for horses and trainers to navigate is the ground. The Silver Cup is held just days before Christmas and the changeable British winter weather can alter the going very quickly. A lot of rain in the days leading up to the race will suit horses who prefer softer ground but a cold, dry spell could well make things firmer than is comfortable for many National Hunt horses.
A Highly Competitive Contest
It’s fair to say that the difficulty and unpredictability of the Ascot Hunt course has had an impact on the calibre of animals competing in the Silver Cup. It’s always been thought of as a very competitive handicap since first being introduced in 1965 and still receives a number of entries each and every year but there is a feeling that it’s lost some of the prestige of years gone by. That is perhaps reflected by the high number of different sponsors who have lent their names to the Silver Cup in more recent times.
Look Out for Unexposed Runners
That said, the Silver Cup is still a difficult race to win and so any successful horse should be considered for other competitive handicaps. Moreover, some trainers have used the Silver Cup as a chance to blood exciting younger horses in this sort of competitive atmosphere.
Take Frodon, who was second in 2017 as a five-year-old as an example. He went on to land the Crest Nicholson Handicap at Cheltenham and finished second in the BetVictor (Paddy Power) Gold Cup so it’s well worth making a note of eye catching performances from younger horses who look unexposed.
There are any number of competitive handicaps around the 3 mile distance. The challenge of Ascot means previous course form is important when assessing a potential winner but the most valuable thing punters can take from the Silver Cup are hints for picking out well priced options in other handicap chases.