Good morning all,
Inside today’s main piece you can read my thoughts on one of Saturday’s big races at Kempton. Plus, I have four that could be of interest at Chepstow and Meydan this afternoon.
Looking ahead to the weekend
Not quite a “Super Saturday” this week. However, we do have a ‘last-minute’ Cheltenham Trials’ meeting at Kempton with a clutch of Grade 2 races: The Close Brothers Pendil Novices' Chase (1:50), Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (2:25), the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle (3:00) and all three races could contain pointers for next month’s Festival.
In the Adonis Hurdle, the Alan King trained juvenile Tritonic bids to enhance his Triumph Hurdle claims. Very useful on the flat, finishing runner-up in a Royal Ascot handicap last summer and also finishing fourth in the Old Rowley Cup. He made a winning hurdle debut at Ascot last month and is open to plenty more improvement in the sphere.
There's also the Grade 3 Close Brothers Handicap Chase (3:35), formerly the Racing Post Chase. Whilst the quality of the participants has declined in recent seasons this year’s entries suggest we could have a decent line up.
Up at Newcastle, it’s the marathon Vertem sponsored Eider Handicap Chase (3:15). For all-weather fans it’s one of the highlights of the winter season, Lingfield’s Winter Derby (2:40) and there’s also the Listed 5f Hever Stakes (2:05).
Both Lingfield races are being covered by ITV, along with the Eider Chase from Newcastle and the best of the action from Kempton.
The ground continues to dry out around the country. At the time of writing Kempton’s going is currently being described as good, good to soft in places.
The weather forecast is dry for the rest of the week, with double figure temperatures, so there probably won't be any soft in Kempton's going description come Saturday. Given so much of the winter action has taken place on soft or worse ground. It’s going to be interesting to see how the form works out in the coming weeks.
1:50 – Close Brothers Pendil Novices' Chase (Grade 2) – 2m 4 ½ f
Since 2012 Paul Nicholls and Alan King have won the Pendil Novices' Chase seven times between them – 7 winners from 15 runners +10.51 9 placed 60%.
The Paul Nicholls trained Hitman heads the ante post betting and rightly so. However, he’s been doing all this running on much more testing ground than is likely on Saturday. He was going well when falling at the 12th in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown last time and on form a worthy market leader.
Messire Des Obeaux who had impressed when winning his first two starts at Wincanton, was travelling well enough up to four out in the Scilly Isles but he couldn’t pick up on the heavy ground and eventually finished a well beaten fourth. The better ground should be more to the 9-year-old’s liking and trainer Alan King saddled last year's winner.
On good ground, Messire Des Obeaux looks the value call.
If you want my weekend previews and selections. You can get them here.
Thursday's most valuable race is the Grade 2 Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle (3:50) at Thurles. However, a couple of handicap chases at Chepstow and two races at Meydan interest me more from a betting perspective.
2:27 – It may pay to forgive Supreme Escape’s last run when pulling up at Wincanton last time. Prior to that the 7-year-old had looked an improver when winning over C&D (heavy) two starts back. The first time cheekpieces are applied and better can be expected today.
4:00 – Jurys Out is a maiden after five starts over fences but the 8-year-old bounced back from a poor run at Ffos Las two starts back (5/4 fav), when 2nd of 13 at Wincanton 47-days ago. Nudged up 2lb for that effort there's a moderate handicap chase in the 8-year-old.
4:15 – Recent Meydan eyecatcher Brilliant Light steps into Group 3 company in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy. On Official Ratings he needs to improve to win this but the step up to 1m 6f should suit the lightly raced 4-year-old who wouldn't want the ground to be too quick.
5:25 – Light And Dark was an improver for Saeed Bin Suroor on his final two starts in the autumn. Finishing runner-up at Sandown before showing a good turn of foot to win on his all-weather debut at Kempton. Up 5lb for that latter success, demands more from the 5-year-old but he’s going the right way. If fully wound up for his first start for 141-days he shouldn't be far away.
It's tough to choose between today's fancies, so I'm ending my week in the Daily Punt ‘hot seat' with two selections.
4:00 – Jurys Out – 4/1 @ Bet365.
5:25 – Light And Dark – 13/2 @ Bet365
Good luck with your Thursday bets.