The Chepstow executive were optimistic, at the time of writing, that the course would pass its Friday afternoon inspection but, with racing in the balance at both Wincanton and for the rearranged Welsh Grand National meeting, it seems prudent to concentrate on Kempton Park where the executive are confident today’s meeting will go ahead.
There is a hot looking 2m 4f handicap chase and, given the absence of Espoir De Romay, Erik Le Rouge (1.10) gets the each way vote for Jane Williams. The selection won the corresponding race 12 months ago from a 3lbs lower mark but has disappointed so far this season. He has had a breathing operation since his latest star, however, and must have every chance on a track that clearly suits. The ew selection is 4s with Boylesports who, at the time of posting, are betting 4 places.
Evander was due to run at Ayr last weekend before the meeting was abandoned and I am not convinced he beat a great deal when scoring at Doncaster from a 9lbs lower mark last time although his jumping was excellent. Mahlervous will have to jump better than was the case at Kelso last time when his stamina won the day over further.
Despite the late defection of Espoir De Romay it is a big day for the Bailey yard as Two For Gold must have a good chance in the 3m handicap chase, but I must give Coo Star Sivola (1.45) another chance after coming to grief at the Chair in the Becher Chase at Aintree last time. I hope to see Richard Johnson, who takes over in the saddle for the first time, get a good tune out of Nick Williams’ former Festival winner who is 7/1 – 4 places – with 10bet.
The official ratings suggest Bailey’s Younevercall is the one to beat in the 2m 5f Relkeel Hurdle, but I feel this rests between Summerville Boy and McFabulous (2.20) and preference is for the Paul Nicholls’ trained 7-y-old who looked a non-stayer at Newbury in a 3m Grade 2 in November. The selection – 13/8 into 11/10 with Unibet – was reported to have hung right on that occasion and he is two out of three going right-handed. Summerville Boy must give 3lbs to the selection and that might be beyond Tom George’s charge who will appreciate this step back up in distance.
My love affair with Imperial Aura is well documented and he is looking to enhance his Ryanair Chase prospects in the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase. He is an odds-on favourite for the race, but I feel he may struggle to give 6lbs to Mister Tommytucker (2.55) who has fallen in two of his three starts at the track but was an impressive winner of the other. The selection is unbeaten on a right-hand track when he has finished the course – four out of 4 – and the Paul Nicholls’ 10-year-old might be tough to peg back if getting a soft lead. The selection is 7/2 with BetVictor.
My two against the field in the Lanzarote Hurdle are Shang Tang (3.30) and Misty Whisky with preference for the Emma Lavelle gelding who only got as far as the first at Wincanton on Boxing Day but had previously scored at Ascot over this trip. The horse he beat comfortably when scoring on his penultimate outing – Southfield Harvest – is now rated 135 having finished runner up in the same race that the selection tipped up last time. The each way recommendation – 10s with William Hill 5 places – looks potentially well treated off a mark of 130.
If Exeter gets the green light – inspection 4pm Saturday – to race on Sunday do keep an eye on the unbeaten Bear Ghylls (2.10) on his handicap debut for Nicky Martin. The form of his most recent success at Ffos Las was dealt a blow when the runner up failed to spark at Newbury last time, but Nicky Martin’s is a stable I have a lot of time for and I feel the return to this trip will see their progressive 6-y-old make it four out of four. William Hill opened up 5/2 on Friday but have cut the selection into 7/4 which does look too short despite his undoubted potential. I feel he will drift out on raceday.
Potters Venture makes his belated seasonal reappearance for Philip Hobbs and looks fairly treated for his return to the track. A check of the market is advised.
Samuel Jackson looks well handicapped in the 3m handicap chase and should run a big race, but Muckamore (3.10) missed an engagement at Ffos Las earlier in the week on account of the last-minute abandonment and he gets the each way vote in a hot-looking contest for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.
Gladiateur Allen (1.40) went into my, and I’m sure many other, notebooks when runner up over further on his racecourse debut at Ffos Las and he can go one better dropping back in distance in the Maiden Hurdle.