DONN McCLEAN: So which of the two favourites in the two big handicaps at Ascot are worth taking on: Yorkist in the Byrne Group Chase or Saphir Du Rheu in the Sodexo Gold Cup? Both available to back or lay at around 4.0, both clear at the top of the market, both with 11 rivals to beat.

In one sense, you have to look to take both on. Both horses are taking out around 25% of the market in a highly competitive handicap chase. If you are betting the former, you are betting that his new trainer can eke out some untapped talent. If you are betting the latter you are betting that the trainer who knows him intimately can get him back close to his best.

Because close to his best would be sufficient for Saphir Du Rheu. Paul Nicholls’ horse finished second to Cole Harden in the World Hurdle in 2015, after which he went to Aintree and won the Grade 1 Mildmay Chase by 15 lengths.

Given a chase mark of 163 after that, he easily beat The Young Master in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle – the race in which More Of That makes his return on Sunday – on his debut last season and was sent off as the 9/2 favourite for the Hennessy.

He didn’t win the Hennessy off that mark, of course, but he made a bad mistake at the second last fence in the back straight, and he did well to travel as well as he did into the home straight after that before he faded.

Last season was a little disappointing after that. He went back over hurdles, he didn’t run that well in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot or in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, and he was fairly well beaten back over fences at Aintree and at Sandown.

But the handicapper has given him a serious chance in dropping him down to a mark of 152, 11lb lower than the mark off which he raced in the Hennessy. If Paul Nicholls has him back even close to the form that he was in at the start of last season, then he will probably win. He could win out of the park, and you can see why people want to back him at 11/4.

But he may not be close to his best and, if he isn’t, Voix D’Eau could be the one to benefit. Harry Fry’s horse progressed over fences last season, and he put up an impressive performance to beat Art Mauresque in a two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase at Cheltenham in April off a mark of 145. He shaped nicely on his debut this season too, behind the same Art Mauresque at Chepstow three weeks ago, and that should put him spot on for this.

He loves fast ground, so it is probable that this valuable race has been his early-season target for a while. He races off a mark of 149 today, just 4lb higher than the mark off which he won at Cheltenham in April, and that is fair. He is only six and has raced just eight times over fences, so he still has the potential to go beyond that mark. He looks over-priced at around 9.6.

You can also argue the case for taking on Yorkist in the two-mile event. A 135-rated hurdler, you can see why he has attracted plenty of support, racing, as he is, off his chase mark of 132, 3lb lower than his hurdles mark, and racing for Dan Skelton for the first time. However, all of that is factored into his odds.

He has only won twice in 14 attempts over fences, both times on soft ground. He did run well on good ground at Ayr in the spring of 2015 to finish second to Duke Of Navan, but the balance of his form suggests that he is a better horse on soft ground than he is on the good ground that he will probably encounter today.

He is half the odds that he was during the week, and you just feel that a lot of the support has been generated by the hope that he can improve dramatically on this, his debut for Skelton. He may well do so, but it is an unknown, and it is all factored into his odds already.

pearlsPearls Legend (pictured) does not have the fashionably progressive profile that some of his rivals have, but he has a lot in his favour. Second in this race last year off a mark of 131, you can easily argue that he has improved by more than the 5lb that he has been raised in the interim. It is probable that a mark of 136 still under-estimates him.

John Spearing’s horse is a tough prominent-racing two-mile chaser, who finds lots for pressure when he is challenged. He proved that in this race last year, and he proved it again when he finished third in a good two-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham’s November meeting on his subsequent run. He did well to keep on as well as he did that day, given that he raced prominently in a race that was almost certainly run to suit the hold-up horses.

He went back to Cheltenham the following month and won another decent two-mile handicap chase. He raced off a mark of 133 that day, just 3lb lower than the mark off which he races today. This mark of 136 should be well within his range.

He is another who goes well on good ground, he jumps well, he is well suited to striff tracks, and he goes well at Ascot. He has run just twice at the Berkshire track: he finished second in this race last year as mentioned earlier, and he was travelling well when he fell at the seventh fence in a novices’ handicap chase at the track in January 2014.

He can tend to jump a little to his left, but he goes well right-handed. His record at right-handed tracks over fences reads 32F2521125, and his record at right-handed tracks over fences on good to soft ground or better reads 32212.

He is more exposed than some of his rivals, but he gets to race off a handicap mark that is 3lb lower than his peak rating and, given how well he ran in this race last year, it is probable that his trainer has been preparing him for today’s race for a while. He could run a big race.

Did you know that as well as checking the realtime prices on BETDAQ below – you can also log into your account and place your bets directly into BETDAQ from BETDAQ TIPS.

Bet via BETDAQ mobile below