Ascot emerges as possible alternative for Cyrname

Paul Nicholls is considering the possibility of rerouting Cyrname to the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot on Saturday.

The highest-rated horse in Britain, having beaten Altior in a highly-anticipated clash at Ascot last November, the eight-year-old subsequently disappointed when a hot favourite but only second in the King George VI at Kempton, before suffering a heavy fall in the Ascot Chase.

With plans to send Cyrname to Down Royal for the Ladbrokes Champion Chase shelved because of coronavirus travel complications, Nicholls last weekend confirmed Saturday’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby as his intended comeback target.

However, on Monday Cyrname also received an entry in Ascot’s Sodexo Gold Cup – a Grade Three handicap, in which he would have to concede more than a stone to each of his rivals.

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Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Nicholls said: “I’ll talk to Johnny (de la Hey, Cyrname’s owner) and see what happens with the ground and the weather.

“We haven’t got to declare until Thursday, so I can’t tell you one way or the other at the moment.”

The Ditcheat handler had earlier talked about the dilemma he faces, on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“Obviously we had thought about and talked about going to Ireland, but it’s very difficult to get the horse out there with staff and do the job properly, so we didn’t think we’d take a chance, hence we rerouted to the Charlie Hall,” said Nicholls.

Paul Nicholls with Cyrname at his yard
Paul Nicholls with Cyrname at his yard (Adam Davy/PA)

“He has got an entry at Ascot in the three-mile handicap. It’s quite a valuable race – and as we know, he does like Ascot.

“He would have to run off 176 at Ascot, which would be a huge task. But as Frodon showed on Saturday (when winning at Cheltenham), top weights can win those handicaps – and you do keep a lot of horses out of the handicap.

“Looking at the weights, you’d say the Charlie Hall would suit him better, but it is a bit of an unknown because we’d be going left-handed.”

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