Good morning all,
Precautionary inspections all over the place but hopefully we get everything on, as it looks a cracking day's racing.
Three of the day's bigger events are on the main piece. If I get time, and all three meetings survive, I will try and add a video in at some point during the morning as well.
1.45 Kempton – Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Chase 3m
As many of these have a letter by their name as a number, so wellbeing of a few of them is called into question.
That’s not the case with old Double Shuffle, who put in another thoroughly decent effort when third to a progressive pair here at Christmas. He was well beaten in the end, but was still there three out before getting a little tired, and this relatively quick turnaround (for him) suggests he’s come out of the race well.
He gets another 2lb drop for that, which can only help, and it’s worth reiterating his record at the track – 1225273, and of course some of that form was in two King Georges. He’s not up to that standard anymore but his falling mark reflects that, and despite the numbers, I’d argue there are far fewer progressive types than his race here last time.
3.30 Kempton – Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle (Listed) 2m5f
An unoriginal first selection for the race, but Everglow was spoken of as one of Philip Hobbs’s exciting prospects for the season before his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow where he simply found the ground too quick. Since then, though, he has progressed nicely, finishing second in a maiden hurdle back at Chepstow that has worked out well, with winner Star Gate finishing second in the Challow and third home Tide Times winning an Ascot handicap off 115 on his next start. Despite greenness, he still proved too good for them when taking a maiden hurdle at Ascot. The handicapper has found it difficult to put a mark on him, but based on his Chepstow second, 125 looks on the low side.
Those wanting something at a bigger price might want to have a look at both Mahler’s Promise and Polish, both of whom hold claims. In the case of the former, he always looked the type to do better with time, and he was still in with every chance when coming down at the last at Fontwell on his second handicap start back in November. He looks nicely handicapped on his Newbury maiden win of last year (second home Enemy Coast Ahead rated 129 now) and has had a wind op since last running too.
Polish was a close fourth in a competitive handicap here in February, and has shaped nicely in this last two starts in novice hurdles at Cheltenham, the latter of them at Grade 2 level. He has the whiff of one laid out for this, and with Connor Brace taking a useful 3lb off, has each-way claims.
3.10 Chepstow – Welsh Grand National 3m6½f
With much the same field as would have lined up at Christmas, and on pretty much the same, testing ground, my thoughts on this haven’t changed much from then. I still want to be against favourite Secret Reprieve, as he’s yet to win in excess of three miles, and I simply can’t back something with unproven stamina for a test such as this. If he stays and wins then fine, I’m wrong, but there are alternatives.
Truckers Lodge is 16lb higher than when second to Potters Corner last year but he hosed up in the Midlands National after that, and looks to have a bit of class to go with his stamina. An unseat at Kelso last time is hardly the ideal prep, but his record on heavy ground reads 2112, and at Chepstow, 112412. It’s hard to see him out of the frame, at worst.
My old friend Big River, who has twice got me a few quid at Cheltenham Festivals (thank you extra places) will love this stamina test, although I have slight reservations about the track – I hope they don’t simply get away from him before his undoubted stamina kicks in in the last half mile. His record on heavy reads 11P121, and if his jumping holds up, he should be there at the business end. One to back with extra places, for sure.
Today's selection – Big River (e/w 6 places) 3.10 Chepstow
Good luck with all your bets today,