We start todays TV action with a good looking Novice Chase where the class act has to be Oliver Sherwood’s Deputy Dan, a horse that is likely to go off favourite but hasn’t quite been able to transfer its previous hurdles prowess into consistant chasing, at the age of seven it still has room to progress but with it likely to go off favourite there has to be value elsewhere.
Sego Success is the horse I’m going to fear the most as Alan King is slowly starting to hit his stride with a few winners recently. That said however this will be the firt time Tom Cannon has ridden the horse and there’s just that slight doubt. I think it will definitely have a good race but I hope not quite enough to get its head infront.
My selection has to be the course winning, Evan Williams trained It’s A Steal. The yard are doing pretty well at the moment and with a course success followed up by another victory it should be able to use that winning experience to make it count.
There is only seven runners unfortunately but if you can get 5/1 or bigger about the eight year old it may be worthwhile to finish in the first two.
It’s A Steal (E/W if 5/1+)
It must be said that this years renewal of this listed chase is far from impressive with just three runners.
Balder Success is the justified favourite, despite not being able to put its head in front in all of its last four outtings but I think it couldn’t be given an easier task than this one here.
I am a huge fan of Hunt Ball and tipped the horse when it finished second last time out. The ten year old certainly has class but I fear its best days are behind it if it’s trying to tackle a horse of Balder Succeses stature.
Fox Appeal, unlike its two rivals has been able to win in its last few starts but a mediocre fifth afterwards is a better indication of its chances.
Although a boring selection I just can’t look past the likely favourite especially now the yard are starting to hit a bit of form.
Balder Succes (WIN)
A good handicap hurdle is our second race from Warwick with current favourite Closing Ceremony my selection for this. It may be far too obvious but its form over Milan Bound in its penultimate start reads very well. It is also worth noting that Richie Mclernon, a jockey that tends to be JP McManus’s second jockey in the UK is allowed to jump off Join The Clan and ride the favourite here. The way the horse battled to win at Haydock in November was impressive before going on to won pretty comfortably last time. It gets another hike in the weights so has to improve once again but I think it has enough to be able to handle its rivals here.
Of the other ten runners Alan King’s Handazan and David Pipe’s Top Wood have to be feared the most but both saddle bigger weights than the favourite.
Closing Ceremony (E/W if 5/1+)
One of the showpiece handicaps of the year away from any festival is The Lanzarote Hurdle.
This years renewal seems just as open as any and you’d discount any at your peril. With it being such an open contest I’m on the hunt for some serious value and I think I may have found it in the form of current priced 25/1 shot, Shotofvodka. The horses last few runs have been prety disappointing but it is a true mudlark and will love the soft ground, the softer the better. David Pipe nters three into the race and he is getting a good tune out of his runners lately and with the ever confident Noel Fehily booked for the ride this one may have a much better opportunity than the price suggests.
Of the remaining runners I am going to select another David Pipe horse and one that will be seen as his first string here. Dell Arca has been relitively disappointing this season but is a horse I am sure will have a big run in it and may do well today for each way value.
The likely dangers have t be course and distance winner Tea For Two and the Nicky Henderson trained Hammersly Lake.
Top weight Kilcooley was mightily impressive when winning last time out but I fear the handicapper may now have it in their grasps.
Dell Arca (E/W)
We get to see a few potential future stars here in what seems a very hot novices hurdle.
Shantou Bob is a very short priced favourite and although Warren Greatrix has had an amazing start to the season his yard isn’t firing in as many winners and surely has to be opposed today.
One yard that is hitting their stride is Dan Skelton and he enters five year old Three Musketeers. The horse was very impressive when beating a Warren Greatrix odds on shot by eleven lengths into third and the second by five lengths. If the horse can improve further then it has to have a great chance.
The Phillip Hobbs trained Alisier D’Irlande is another that has a decent chance but will have to improve on its previous outing.
Three Musketeers (E/W if 5/1+)
Our last race from Kempton sees nine runners line up for the penultimate race on their card.
Open Hearted seems the one to beat with a course win to its name but as with most of todays TV races value has to be the key especially with three places on offer.
Masters Hill has a good chance and with Noel Fehily in the saddle an extra boost it has to be there or thereabouts but with the Tizzard yard less than impressive recently you have to fear wether or not they have their horses right just yet.
Top weight Chartreux has done nothing wrong in winning its last two outtings but you have to question the quality of that opposition and wether it has enough to be lumbered with the biggest burden on its back.
Like Chartreux my selection is one of the older ten year olds and as Alan King has started to fire you could excuse Midnight Appeal’s previous runs. The horse is now back to a mark just one pound above its last win and will relish soft ground. I needs to improve on its latest outtings but I think it still has the ability to go close in a race of this nature.
Midnight Appeal (E/W)
We end the days action with Betfred Classic Chase which will be a gruelling slog over three miles and five furlongs in what is expected to be on pretty wet ground.
We have some chasing stolwarts in the race with the likes of West End Rocker lining up at the age of thirteen. It would be a fairytale to see this one pick up the prize but I fear, despite its win last time out this one will be too much for the old guard.
Sticking with a bit of centimentality my first selection is the second oldest horse in the race. Good old Carruthers never seems to run a bad race and put in a decent race when third last time out. The horse is obviously getting on in age but with a course win to its name it could still retain enough ability to give some of these a run for their money.
I’m opting for two in this race and my second selection is a fellow course winner. Venetia Williams had the Welsh Grand National winner a few weeks back and enters two in the race. Rigadin Du Beauchene has won over course and distance but I fear has too much weight nowadays. I am however siding with her second runner BallyOliver. Another horse that is by no means a spring chicken but with a win over the course and favoured jockey (as opposed to Robert Dunne) Liam Treadwell in the saddle it has to have a chance at a price that seems far too big.
Philip Hobbs’s Return Spring has a great chance but maybe another that could be carrying too much weight.
by Rory Paddock