It’s not long before children all over the world wake up full of excitement on Christmas morning. For horse racing fans though, Christmas is about much more than one day. The standard of racing at this time of year is sky high and one of the most popular meetings takes place at Ascot this weekend.

The Silver Cup Handicap is among the pick of the action from Ascot on Saturday. Twenty horses are entered for the three mile chase that takes in 19 fences around the Berkshire course. With several potential winners, it could pay to analyse the race and try to make a long list more manageable.

Race Analysis

One of the interesting quirks of the Silver Cup Handicap is that each of the last 11 winners had a different trainer. That shows you just how competitive this race is but it’s fair to say it’s not a contest for younger horses. Just one horse under six has claimed the Silver Cup since the turn of the millennium. It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of recent winners had a prior three mile win over fences to their name.

Other stats to consider include the fact that last year’s winner, Regal Encore, was the first horse to win carrying more than 11-06 since 2002, while French bred horses have a surprisingly good record.

Betting Tips

The early betting for the 2017 Silver Cup Handicap sees Singlefarmpayment and Go Conquer contesting favouritism. Of the two, it’s Singlefarmpayment who offers the most appeal. Tom George’s seven-year-old could be the perfect blend of youth and experience. He’s old enough to fit the statistical trend but his relative lack of experience over fences means he looks unexposed off a mark of 147.

The big question mark hanging over Singlefarmpayment’s head is his jumping ability. George claimed that his horse was travelling very well when making a mistake at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy and that he’s suffered no ill effects from that fall. A drop back in class from Grade 3 to Listed level should ensure Singlefarmpayment is under less pressure early on and if his jumping improves for a bit more schooling, he could well be the one to beat.

As this year’s Silver Cup Handicap looks a particularly competitive renewal, it could well be worth your while having a couple of each way bets to complement the main tip. In that regard Yala Enki (16/1 with Ladbrokes) and Bishops Road (25/1 with Coral) are both appealing.

Venetia Williams has already run Yala Enki twice this season with the seven-year-old improving for each appearance. He clearly wasn’t quite right when pulled up in the Badger Ales Trophy but was much better in the At The Races Rehearsal Handicap where he was beaten by just two horses, one of whom happened to be Bishops Road.

Kerry Lee was more than happy with Bishops Road’s second place finish at Newcastle and connections are quietly confident about the nine-year-old’s chances of landing the health prize on offer at Ascot. He’ll have to improve quite a bit to win but a place is well within Bishops Road’s capabilities.