Straw Fan Jack set for Ascot return

Sheila Lewis has an eye on more Ascot prize money as Straw Fan Jack heads back to the track following his gallant run in the 1965 Chase.

The grey was a useful hurdler who took to chasing instantly with a pair of wins at Ffos Las and Cheltenham last season, ending his term in top class company when fourth in both the Arkle and the Manifesto Novices’ Chase.

He started his campaign in amongst graded company again when lining up for the Grade Two 1965 Chase at Ascot in November, a race in which he was the 40-1 outsider with Shishkin an odds-on favourite.

Shishkin was not in the mood for racing, however, and refused to start, leaving Pic D’Orhy to take the honours with Straw Fan Jack collecting over £16,000 for coming home in second.

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The eight-year-old will now return to the same track to run over the same trip in the Howden Graduation Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

Straw Fan Jack at Cheltenham
Straw Fan Jack at Cheltenham (Simon Marper/PA)

Lewis reports the gelding to be faring well following his last outing, where he justified the trainer’s decision to take on establish graded performers.

“He absolutely did (justify the run),” she said.

“It was really interesting, it was one of those times where you’re either a genius or an idiot. My son said before we left ‘taking on Shishkin…you know you’re off your head, don’t you?’

“Graham (Wilson), his owner, did point out that Shishkin can be a bit temperamental, though we never thought he just wouldn’t start.

“It was one of those chance-your-arm times and it paid off.

“He’s come out of it so well, it’s almost as if he hasn’t had a race. He’s doing really well, I’m very pleased with him.

“He’ll go as long as it’s not too soft, I think he’d go on it if it was but I don’t think he’d be at his best.

“I’ve gone down the route of the bigger races and you’re going in to it knowing you’re not necessarily going to win but we’ve had some lovely days out and we’ve collected some place money, which keeps the owners in the game.

“We’re really enjoying the journey and we’re just grateful every time he runs, to be honest, that’s how we feel about him.”

Also entered in the contest is Paul Nicholls’ Solo, second in the Haldon Gold Cup when last seen, with Venetia Williams’ unbeaten novice chaser Djelo and Alex Hales’ Grade One-winner Millers Bank.

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