Saturday’s Chepstow card has been abandoned but there is excellent racing on both sides of the Irish Sea to look forward to this weekend.
We start our preview at Kempton Park and Reserve Tank is a late defection from the Grade 2 Pendil Novices’ Chase for Colin Tizzard and I hope to see Master Tommytucker (1.15) put behind his fall at the fourth last here in the 3m Grade 1 Kauto Star Chase here on Boxing Day. The selection drops back in trip by half a mile and did jump slightly out to his left last time, which is a slight cause for concern, but he had looked a promising sort when scoring here on his chase debut when he beat Who Dares Wins who reopposes in this race.
Do note that trainer Paul Nicholls dispenses with the hood which the selection has worn for his two starts so far this term. The selection is 5/2 at BetVictor.
The filly Fujimoto Flyer (1.50) is fitted with a hood for the first time by Emmet Mullins but she is taken to maintain her unbeaten record over timber in the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle. The Irish raider is 10/1 for next month’s Triumph Hurdle with BetVictor and 7/4 to make it three out of three over timber here. The juvenile was no great shakes on the level but has looked a natural over timber winning both starts by an aggregate of 27 lengths.
The unbeaten Buzz was reported by Nicky Henderson to have been down to Henrietta Knight for a period of extensive schooling ahead of the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle and he must go close in a race that the stable have saddled the winner of three times in the past seven years.
The each way vote, however, goes to West Cork (3.02) who has won his last couple of starts and will have the race run to suit with Highway One O Two, seemingly, guaranteed to take them along at a decent clip.
Four of the first five home in the £100,000 3m Handicap Chase are in the field again this year, but my two against the field are Just A Sting and Dashing Perk (3.35) with preference for the latter despite the fact that he stepping up to this trip for the first time and is 2lbs out of the weights.
The selection was given an aggressive ride by Richard Johnson when runner up at Sandown last time and he is not guaranteed to appreciate this trip even though he is a winner between the flags. The each way selection is 12/1 at BetVictor who are betting 4 places on this 14-runner contest.
The Eider Chase is the feature race at Newcastle and Hugo ‘N Taz looks sure to go close for David Pipe having made such an impressive British debut when scoring at Market Rasen and a 10lbs rise looks fair such was the ease of his success. At 5/1 with BetVictor he must go close but marginal preference is for Alminar (2.45) who was an impressive winner in his first-time blinkers at Chepstow last time. The each way selection is 12/1 at BetVictor and Danny Cook takes over in the saddle.
The Winter Derby at Lingfield looks a match between Bangkok (3.15) and Dubai Warrior and the Andrew Balding trained four-year-old gets a narrow vote. The selection was a comfortable winner on his all-weather debut over today’s C&D in a fast time last month and I hope there is a decent gallop which is not always the case in this Group 3 contest.
Almufti (3.50) overcame trouble in running to score cosily from a 4lbs lower mark in a slowly run race last time, but he was well on top in the end and a 4lbs rise looks fair. Arcanada is likely to make it a truer test this afternoon which should suit the Hugo Palmer-trained four-year-old.
The highlight of Fontwell’s season is Sunday’s Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase and Olly Murphy’s Thomas Darby looks sure to be all the rage having won at Ascot last time on his return to hurdles having been beaten in both chase starts earlier in the campaign. Marginal preference, however, is for William Henry (3.20) who failed to stay three miles behind Paisley Park last time and is rated just 2lbs inferior to the likely market leader.
Nicholls saddles two in the Hunter Chase with both Alcala and Bob And Co (4.50) looking to qualify for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham next month. The selection is a French recruit to the yard who looked potentially smart in this sphere when scoring by a distance at Bangor-on-Dee on his British debut.