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Charlie Mann is bullish about the chances of Celibate when he returns to the fray in the Grade One Mitsubishi Shogun Ascot Chase on Saturday.

The nine-year-old is on offer at 7-2 with Cork bookmakers Cashmans behind 6-4 joint favourites Rockforce and Nordance Prince. Wakeel is 7-1 while Strong Promise is 3-1 with a run.

However Mann reasoned: 'It is amazing isn't it, he would be giving them all weight in a handicap!

'He is in cracking form and this race has always been the target, I did not think it was worth taking on Flagship Uberalles on off level weights in the Game Spirit at Newbury last week.'

Mann went on: 'I think he has to have a great chance and Mick Fitzgerald rides, he knows him well and the horse will run regardless of the ground. There is no problem with the trip and he will be ridden closer to the pace than he was last time.'

Looking further ahead, Celibate heads for Japan for the £444,444 to the winner Nakayama Grand Jump at Nakayama racecourse near Tokyo on April 15th but is likely to give the Cheltenham Festival a miss.

The trainer went on: 'He will definitely go for the race in Japan if he gets invited which he should because he is second top-rated behind Edredon Blue - I think they will let us know on Friday.

'There is really only the Champion Chase or the Mildmay of Flete for him at Cheltenham and he would have top weight in the latter race - he just may go there, but he will miss Punchestown and Aintree.'