Kempton takes centre stage today, with a competitive card which may provide clues to a certain meeting taking place next month in Gloucestershire.
By far the most valuable race on offer is the Betdaq Handicap Chase at 3.35, with a field of 15 going to post.
Favourite at 4-1 is the Harry Fry trained Acting Lass, a 7-y-o unbeaten in its only three chases to date and stepping up to 3 miles for the first time. This undoubtedly talented horse has faced only eleven rivals in total so far and the race today will be a whole new cauldron of tench, which may be beyond it. Indeed, when winning at Ascot last time out, backers could be forgiven for dispensing with their betting slips during the first mile of the race, as Acting Lass appeared to take an age to decide to start racing and a repeat of that will dish its chances very early.
Our idea of the winner is the NT-D trained 7-y-o Tintern Theatre, undoubtedly the pick of the weights. In six tries over the larger obstacles, TT has failed to finish three times, falling once and unseating twice, but, before you think we’re nuts, read on.
The fall came on only its second try over fences and was just a misjudgement, while the first unseat was more from over-exuberance and was what’s described as a ‘soft’ unseat (jockey fell off). Looked like the winner that day against horses rated miles higher and TT showed its true mettle next time out when winning a Class 2 handicap over this very course and distance, beating Pilgrims Bay, the winner of today’s contest last year.
The horse’s next and latest appearance was in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock, run on bottomless ground. Coming into the straight, Tintern Theatre was swinging on the bridle and trading at odds-on in running, before ‘haydock heavy’ took its toll and the horse became totally cream crackered, eventually getting rid of Jamie Bargary in protest for asking it to jump the last fence.
Of the six chases attempted, the non-completions have been the even numbered ones, so everything is in place today for a really big run. The 8-1 available should be taken each way.
The action starts at 1.15 with the snappily named Back Or Lay On Betdaq Handicap Hurdle for which Monbeg Legend is a worthy favourite at 13-2. A winner of its first three hurdle races, this Nicky Henderson trained 8-y-o lost its unbeaten record on seasonal/handicap debut when second in a Class 2 handicap at Taunton. Unsuited by the very soft ground then and off the same mark today, this consistent beast can get us off to a good each way start.
The Sky Bet Dovecote Novices Hurdle at 3.00 has a host of Festival entered horses taking part, including two debutantes with exalted Flat ratings. Favourite at a skinny 2-1 is Paul Nicholls’ Mont Des Avaloirs, which has done little wrong to date and should go well. However, with the hunt for value uppermost, we’ll take it on with an each way bet on Ian Williams’ charge Michael’s Mount at 7-1.
An 85 rated Flat horse, MM showed a taking aptitude for its new career with an easy debut win at Doncaster and could well bustle up some more fancied rivals.
Our Kempton review is completed with a crack at the Betdaq 2% Commission Exchange Handicap Chase at 4.10, in which we recommend a win bet on Kayf Blanco at 4-1 and an each way bet on Enjoy Responsibly at a tasty 10-1.
Two other important races are being covered by ITV4 today – the Betfred Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle (2.45) and the Betway Winter Derby Stakes at Lingfield (3.15).
Oop North, we like the chances of Baywing, each way at 9-1 and at Leafy the Clive Cox trained Khalidi catches our eye, again each way, at 11-2.
A busy and (hopefully) profitable day before the arctic chill descends.
Tintern Theatre 3.35 Kempton e/w @ 8-1 SkyBet (5 places)
Monbeg Legend 1.15 Kempton e/w @ 13-2 Ladbrokes (4 places)
Michael’s Mount 3.00 Kempton e/w @ 7-1 William Hill
Kayf Blanco 4.10 Kempton win @ 4-1 10Bet
Enjoy Responsibly 4.10 Kempton e/w @ 10-1 BetVictor
Baywing 2.45 Newcastle e/w @ 9-1 Ladbrokes (5 places)
Khalidi 3.15 Lingfield e/w @ 11-2 Betway