Just thirty-one runners for Kempton’s six-race card as a result of the current dry spell. Conditions were described as good (watered) on Sunday morning.
Only three go to post for the Novice Chase and Sebastopol is likely to go off market leader to end a frustrating run of seven successive second place finishes. That said it would be no surprise if his sequence continued as I feel Atholl Street (1.15) can build on what was an encouraging chase debut at Fakenham last month.
The selection – 2s with MansionBet – won two of three starts over timber last season – both at Taunton on goodish ground – and he may appreciate returning to a right-handed track this afternoon. His one defeat over timber did come at Kempton when he was made favourite for a Grade 2 here back in February but pulled his chance away. If settling better today he can build on his Fakenham run and go one better.
Mercian Prince will appreciate conditions more than was the case over hurdles at Fontwell earlier in the month when the ground was much softer than the official description of good. He is only 2lbs higher than when scoring over a slightly shorter trip here on his penultimate start.
There is plenty of pace in the race and I feel the handicapper has given The Unit (2.25) a chance of making a winning reappearance. The ew selection – 7s with Boylesports – begins this season 13lbs lower than when making a return from a lengthy lay-off 12 months ago and he did show glimpses last term to suggest he retains enough ability to win more races. Alan King has his string in excellent shape and first time out may be the time to catch the ten-year-old.
Inca Rose (2.55) will make a chaser and Kim Bailey must have considered sending his 6-y-old straight over fences, but he keeps to hurdles for his seasonal reappearance. The selection – 4s with William Hill – appreciated the step up to 3m when runner up at Warwick back in the spring. He was beaten less than a length by a Paul Nicholls-trained hurdler at Exeter on good ground over an extended 2m 5f 12 months ago and the winner – Flash Collonges – is now rated 145. The selection looks well up to defying an opening mark of 117.
Curramore looks to have a favourites chance in the 2m 3f+ handicap hurdle at Ayr but he has been put in short enough in the betting at 2/1 and my two against the field are Lock Down Luke and Red Missile (1.35) with marginal preference for the latter who failed to get home over three miles last time and should be well served by today’s conditions. The ew recommendation is 10s with 10Bet.
There is a real engine in Lock Down Luke but his novicey jumping and refusal to settle has hindered his progress to date. He is potentially very well treated but his yard have not had a winner for six months and those that are running are pulling up few trees.
Donald McCain has a couple of fancied runners in Scotland and I am hopeful of a very big run from Heartbreak Kid (3.15) who I noted travelling and jumping very well at Sedgefield on his reappearance before his stamina gave way over an extended 2m 3f. Todays drop back to an extended two miles should suit and he had bits of form last season – 9L second to the 145-rated Cheddleton off level weights – which suggest he should be up to winning off a mark of 120.
**Note he is a non runner on Monday morning.