Sprinter Sacre set to get Ascot’s year off to a flying start

Ascot’s first meeting of 2015 is set to get off to a flying start this Saturday with the Clarence House Raceday, one of the most popular racedays of the Jumps season.

The day features the Grade 1 Sodexo Clarence House Steeple Chase, arguably Ascot’s best-loved race over the Jumps, with a prize fund of £125,000.

The race is always a vital stepping-stone to the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, attracting the very best speed chasers in Europe, and never more so than this year as Sprinter Sacre features among the six entries.

Nicky Henderson’s brilliant two-miler has not run since being pulled up at Kempton in December 2013, after which he was diagnosed with a heart problem. He was given a clean bill of health when pleasing in a racecourse gallop at Newbury recently and only unsuitably soft ground would appear likely to stop him making an eagerly-awaited reappearance on Saturday.

Heading the opposition is Tingle Creek winner, Dodging Bullets, along with 2012 Clarence House winner, Somersby. Nicky Henderson’s French Opera is another possible runner and Twinlight could represent Willie Mullins’ powerful Irish stable.

Ascot’s Clerk of The Course, Chris Stickels, said: “The Clarence House Chase looks particularly exciting this year with Sprinter Sacre’s return something the whole of racing is waiting to see. The ground is soft at the moment following 12mm rain overnight to 9am Tuesday. The forecast is for possible occasional showers today with further rain expected on Wednesday evening. It is then due to get colder with possible sleety showers for Friday and Saturday.”

Ascot has also pledged its support for Disabled Access Day this Saturday. Disabled Access Day is a new initiative taking place on January 17th and the racecourse will dedicate its second race of the day to mark the occasion.

Nick Smith, Head of Communications at Ascot, said: “Disabled Access Day is a very important new initiative aimed at encouraging disabled people, their friends and families to visit somewhere new together and we sincerely hope that those who have chosen to come to Ascot for the first time have a wonderful day.”

People participating in Disabled Access Day will also have the opportunity to win four Premier Admission tickets to the Clarence House Chase Raceday and the chance to judge the best turned out horse from the Parade Ring ahead of the second race. For more information and to enter please visit www.disabledaccessday.com.

Kiki MacDonald, Co-Founder of Euan’s Guide, lead sponsor of Disabled Access Day, said: “Promoting good disabled access is at the core of what we do, so this campaign is close to our hearts.  We are delighted that Ascot are taking part and by doing so are demonstrating how important disabled access is to them.”

Tickets for the Clarence House Chase Raceday on Saturday 17th January start from £21 and accompanied children under 18 years of age gain free entry at all Ascot meetings.  To purchase your tickets and for more information please click here