Edmunds hoping the time is right for Theclockisticking in Friday’s Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot

Sky Bet’s “Road to Cheltenham” moves on to Ascot this Friday, December 22, with the £35,000 G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle (1.55pm, 13 entries).


The two-mile contest is the second of seven races in Sky Bet’s “Road To Cheltenham” which culminates with the £125,000 G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race of The Festival at Cheltenham on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.


Heading the market at 2/1 with Sky Bet is Claimantakinforgan (trained by Nicky Henderson), who was third in the G1 Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in March and made the perfect start to his hurdling career when successful at Newbury on November 9. The Lambourn handler has won the Ascot contest a record four times and could also be represented by the four-year-old Diese Des Bieffes (7/1), who is undefeated in two starts over hurdles, thanks to victories at Fontwell and Taunton in November.


Slate House (Colin Tizzard, 3/1 with Sky Bet) landed the opening race in the series when successful in the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 19. Sold for £260,000 at Cheltenham in March, Slate House is unbeaten in two starts over hurdles, having also scored at Cheltenham on October 27. His G2 success at Cheltenham last time means that he will have to carry a 5lb penalty at Ascot on Friday.


If The Cap Fits (Harry Fry) has made the perfect start to his hurdling career with two wins from as many starts. The five-year-old, owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, has scored very comfortably at Exeter and Bangor this season.


Trainer Harry Fry could also be represented by the J P McManus-owned Mr One More (7/1), who is also undefeated in two outings over hurdles this season, most recently scoring over Friday’s course and distance on November 24, when he defeated Dr Des (Henry Oliver, 12/1) by a neck.


Theclockisticking (Stuart Edmunds, 13/2) is another contender to have made a very smart start to his hurdling career. The five-year-old Gamut gelding scored by 32 lengths on debut at Fakenham on October 20 before going on to gain another impressive success when the 10-length winner at Huntingdon on November 14.


Trainer Stuart Edmunds, who is based in Buckinghamshire, said today: “Theclockisticking is in good form and we intend to run him at Ascot on Friday.


“We have to step him up in grade because of what he has done. The handicapper has given him a lofty mark (140) and I hope that he is right.


“He is a very lazy horse at home – he gives you a nice feel without being flash – and we were a little bit surprised with his win first time out.


“I had always got him down as a two and a half-miler and then the race at Fakenham cut up, so that’s the only reason we started him off over two miles.
“I still think that he will improve with the step up to two and a half, but we have to remain over this distance until he proves that we need to go up in trip.


“He is not proven on softer ground, but I think that he will cope with it. The ground shouldn’t hopefully be too bad at Ascot and we need to dip our toe to see how good we are.”


Other contenders include Destrier (Dan Skelton, 10/1) and Tikkanbar (Neil Mulholland, 14/1), who both made winning debuts over hurdles, and Coeur Blimey (Sue Gardner, 16/1), who won a Listed bumper at this meeting two years ago and was successful last time out over hurdles at Wincanton.


Irish Prophecy (Emma Lavelle, 20/1), Clondaw Castle (Tom George, 33/1) and Mahari (Kerry Lee, 33/1) complete the entries.


Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, said: “We are all set for what should be a terrific renewal of the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot on Friday.


“Having won the opening race of the series at Cheltenham last month, Slate House sets the standard, although he will have to carry a 5lb penalty for that G2 success.


“Nicky Henderson has a formidable record in this race and his smart bumper performer Claimantakinforgan is Sky Bet’s 2/1 favourite following a smooth success at Newbury last time.


“Several of the other contenders have also made very impressive starts to their hurdling careers and we look set for a cracking contest.”


Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle, Ascot, 22/12/17, Sky Bet odds:


2/1 Claimantakinforgan; 3/1 Slate House; 7/2 If The Cap Fits; 13/2 Theclockisticking; 7/1 Diese Des Bieffes, Mr One More; 10/1 Destrier; 12/1 Dr Des; 14/1 Tikkanbar; 16/1 Coeur Blimey; 20/1 Irish Prophecy; 33/1 Clondaw Castle, Mahari


Each-Way: 1/5 – 1, 2, 3

The races in the Sky Bet’s “Road To Cheltenham” for the 2017/18 season are:


Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle (Grade Two) – Cheltenham, Sunday, November 19, 2017 – won by Slate House


Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle (Grade Two) – Ascot, Friday, December 22, 2017


Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (Grade Two) – Punchestown (Ireland), Saturday, January 13, 2018


Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle (Grade Two) – Haydock Park, Saturday, January 20, 2018


Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle – Musselburgh, Sunday, February 4, 2018


Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (Grade Two) – Kempton Park, Saturday, February 24, 2018


Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade One) - Cheltenham, Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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