As the National Hunt game is gearing up to Cheltenham I shall be avoiding that sphere today and concentrating instead solely on the all weather action at Kempton. Our first selection comes in what looks a tricky heat on paper as several boast recent victories, of them course specialist Ocean Legend bids to record a hat-trick and whilst he is massively respected, he is probably worth taking on. Caledonia Laird could hardly have been any more impressive when scooting up at Chelmsford last time, he must race from 1lb outside of the handicap today and has also received a 9lbs penalty for that success. The possible downside to a follow up is that a lot of these like to lead and though he was pestered last time, the pace today is likely to be a hot one. If he has turned the corner however, the 9lbs penalty may not prevent a follow up and so he too warrants healthy respect. With all the pace looking likely to suit a hold up type, dual course and distance winner Breakheart makes plenty of appeal. Andrew Balding’s eight year old arrives here in decent nick and a repeat of his third behind Solar Deity may be enough. The re-application of the visor ( won in them before ) looks another positive and at around 8/1, he is taken to reward the place players.
Breakheart (E/W if 5/1+)
Fire King has hinted at a return to the winners enclosure of late and this looks a good opportunity to do just that. Seven pounds claimer David Parkes has ridden him the last three times and his claim effectively has the horse racing off a lower mark than when toughing it out and winning this race last season. Berrahri scored at St Moritz last time and his yard are firing on all cylinders at present, he looks almost certain to go close again but his price if off putting for punting purposes. Both Warbound and Katmai River are consistent and both have place claims, the danger to the selection however could come from the unexposed Pouncing Tiger. Stuart Williams charge has a good deal to find on the book but you just get a feeling he will be heavily backed when his turn is near and todays race may not take much winning.
Fire King (E/W if 5/1+)
My usual penchant for a weird and wonderfully speculative bet has been rather ruined by my first two selections, this one however is currently trading at 20/1, so I guess weird has been nailed. Rise To Glory has shown only modest form so far this year and probably deserves to be an outsider, his run here the last day was slightly misleading however as the jockey kicked a long way from home. Drawn in stall two tonight, he is perfectly positioned to steal if from the front and is taken to spring an upset. Rocket Rob is almost impossible to predict nowadays, its almost inevitable that he will eventually pop up though and his price could be made to look foolish, if he was on a going day. Compton Prince and Lujeanie are other infuriating sorts with chances along with Tidal’s Baby. Satchville Flyer is likely to be favourite having won his previous two starts, on the face of it he wouldn’t have to improve a great deal to rattle off the hat-trick. My issue with his two victories are that both have taken place at Chelmsford, its very harsh to overlook him but plenty of winners their have been beaten next time up at a different course and the same could well happen with him. Quinta Feira still looked green last time and is hard to weigh up, he’s extremely unexposed in a race of this context though and could be the fly in the ointment.
Rise To Glory (E/W if 5/1+)
by Chris Connolly