With the Festival just over two weeks away, today’s racing will provide some final clues ahead of Cheltenham’s showcase meeting.
Most of those clues will come from the action at Kempton, where the opening contest, the Adonis Hurdle, has been a particularly good trial in the past.
Adonis Juvenile Hurdle
Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have an exceptional record with their juveniles and both unleash some potentially smart newcomers here.
For punting purposes, it is a shame there isn’t one more runner, but we still think it might be worth taking a chance on the outsider, AZZURI.
Dan Skelton continues to climb the training ranks at a rate of knots and this horse should appreciate the better ground here and step up on his debut at Mussleburgh in a decent race three weeks ago. He is highly thought of and has a better chance than his odds suggest.
|Azzuri (ew)||2.00 Kempton||50/1||Bet365|
Pendil Novices’ Chase
The Pendil Novices Chase follows and we think THE SAINT JAMES has a big shout. He is still yet to win for his new yard, but has run some decent races in defeat since joining Jonjo O’Neill, none more so than in the Fred Winter at last season’s Festival. Again, the sounder surface could bring about plenty of improvement and he can take advantage of a handy weight allowance.
|The Saint James (win)||2.35 Kempton||3/1||Bet365|
The day’s big race is the BetBright Chase where THEATRE GUIDE makes plenty of appeal for the in-form Colin Tizzard.
In Cue Card’s colours, this horse ran a blinder behind Smad Place in the Hennessy before being third behind the same opponent on Trials Day at Prestbury Park last time out. This is a slight drop in class and he has won here before. Conditions look ideal and he could still be well handicapped.
Novices often run well in this race, which brings Thomas Brown into the equation, but at a much bigger price we prefer BALLYKAN.
Nigel Twiston-Davies does well with this sort of horse in this sort of race, and the ground has really come in Ballykan’s favour. He was pulled up on soft last time out, but if you ignore that run he has plenty of form that gives him a squeak here.
We also can’t resist having a few quid on FOX APPEAL who is narrowly preferred to Thomas Brown’s stablemate, Opening Batsman, (who won this three years ago off this mark).
Fox Appeal’s yard has been badly out of form, but deserves a change of luck after losing one of its stars in a freak accident on the all-weather recently. If he is near his best, he should be in the mix and it is a chance worth taking at potentially rewarding odds.
|Theatre Guide (ew)||3.35 Kempton||9/1||Bet365|
|Ballykan (ew)||3.35 Kempton||25/1||Bet365|
|Fox Appeal (ew)||3.35 Kempton||28/1||Bet365|
Newcastle stages one of its big races of the season, the Eider Chase over 4 miles.
Kerry Lee has been having an unbelievable season and she has a decent chance of another big Saturday success here, courtesy of Russe Blanc. However, conditions won’t be anything like as soft today as they were when this horse claimed a big staying chase at Warwick 6 weeks ago.
He also has a rise in the weights to cope with, so we prefer the fast improving ROCKING BLUES for another inform trainer, Rose Dobbin.
This horse has been in inspired form recently and he looks to have a massive chance if he has recovered rom a facile win 9 days ago. He also has to handle the extra mile here, but is a smooth traveller who might be even better over marathon trips.
The race could be dominated by female trainers as another one we like is LACKAMON for Sue Smith. He returned to winning ways in the North Yorkshire National at Catterick recently and that confidence booster gives him a chance of following up here.
CORK CITIZEN is the other interesting one on only his second start for David Pipe. He is surely well handicapped and is bound to be winning for Pipe soon. Hopefully, today might be the day.
|Rocking Blues (ew)||2.50 Newcastle||9/1||Bet365|
|Cork Citizen (ew)||2.50 Newcastle||11/1||Bet365|
|Lackamon (ew)||2.50 Newcastle||25/1||Stan James|
Pertemps Network Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase
Best bet at Chepstow looks to be Wild Bill in the Pertemps Novices Handicap Chase at 2.40pm
|Wild Bill (win)||2.40 Chepstow||4/1||Bet365|