Mullins keeps open option of taking on Sprinter Sacre with Twinlight

Nicky Henderson’s team have some concerns about possible heavy ground at Ascot

Twinlight has mixed good and bad this season but only a career best performance is likely to be good enough if he is to record back-to-back Grade One wins at Ascot this weekend.

Saturday's Sodexo Clarence House Chase is almost exclusively focused around Sprinter Sacre's eagerly-anticipated return to action after over a year on the sidelines but Willie Mullins has kept open the option of taking on Nicky Henderson's superstar with Twinlight.

The enigmatic French-bred is one of just six entries left in the two-mile highlight after the five-day stage and is rated an 8-1 shot in some lists to follow up his surprise Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet success at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Twinlight was also an impressive winner on his seasonal debut at Navan but in between was pulled up in the Hilly Way at Cork behind Felix Yonger. He was third to Captain Chris on his only previous cross-channel raid, at Kempton a year ago.


Testing ground usually suits the Mullins hope well but Sprinter Sacre's jockey Barry Geraghty is hoping conditions don't get too bad at Ascot.

“The forecast is pretty wet and it just depends how bad it gets, we wouldn’t want it too heavy,” said Geraghty.

Good form

“He’s in good form, Nico (de Boinville) schooled him on Friday morning. I wasn’t there, but the reports were good. I could understand why the bookmakers cut him (after his Newbury schooling session), even though it wasn’t a race. He looked well and he showed there he seems to be reasonably well in himself,” he added.

Sprinter Sacre is a general odds-on favourite for the Clarence House which has also attracted the Tingle Creek winner Dodging Bullets, Somersby and Richard Lee’s Grey Gold. Ground conditions at Ascot are reported “good to soft” at present.

No Irish-trained horse has won the race since Arthur Moore’s Jeffel won in 1998 when it was still a handicap.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column