The battle between Energumene and Edwardstone has begun, but only one other rival is expected to participate.
The two star chasers, Energumene and Edwardstone, are both on track to compete in Saturday’s LK Bennett Clarence House Chase (3.35), bringing the much-anticipated Ascot matchup one step closer.
After the confirmation stage on Monday, which eliminated Fugitif, Funambule Sivola, Messire Des Obeaux, Minella Drama, and Sizing Pottsie, Amarillo Sky is the only other potential runner.
Energumene, trained by Willie Mullins, will be looking to get back on track in the big race after losing to Shishkin by a length last season after a memorable fight up the straight.
Energumene will compete against Arkle hero Edwardstone for the first time after winning the Champion Chase at Punchestown and Cheltenham.
“That’s the plan.”
On his first start of the season, Energumene won the Hilly Way Chase at Cork in December with a wide margin. According to his connections, he will take his chance this weekend.
Energumene owner Tony Bloom’s racing manager, Sean Graham, stated: “That’s the plan. Rather than go to Leopardstown at Christmas and then to the Dublin Racing Festival, we thought we’d go back to Ascot.”
“He was so good in the Hilly Way and this route gave him an extra couple of weeks. This plan worked last year for him with Cheltenham in mind as well. Hopefully him being there will put a few people on the gate.”
After winning the Tingle Creek by nine lengths in December, Edwardstone strengthened his position as the best two-mile chaser. However, he fell short when he was last seen in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas.
The chaser trained by Alan King was supposed to run for the first time in November at Ascot, but it was pulled out of the Hurst Park Handicap Chase because the ground was too fast. At the moment, the going at the track is soft, from good to soft in some places.
Although Amarillo Sky is rated 19 pounds lower than Edwardstone and 6 pounds lower than Energumene, he has won both of his starts this season.
It will be just the fourth British Grade 1 race in the past ten years that has only three competitors competing. In 2019, a trio entered this race, which Altior won at odds of 1-10.
The number of runners in this year’s field has decreased by at least one. £9,327 was scheduled for the fourth-place finisher.
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