Back to slightly more mundane racing today, with ITV covering the meetings at Kempton and Uttoxeter, seven races in all.
We start with the Sunbury action and the Virgin Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at 2.05, which has a field of seven.
At 4-1 the field, this is a wide open affair and our trusty pin has landed on Northern raider Onthefrontfoot, which is available at 7-1.
Donald McCain‘s 7-y-o has warmed up for this with three runs in Jumpers’ Bumpers at Newcastle, finishing 3rd, 2nd and 4th which tells us that it should at least be fit. The horse’s two tries over fences (3rd & 2nd) last year were promising and this dual Novice hurdle winner should give Jonathan Burke a good spin round. Have an each way bet.
The Virgin Bet Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle at 2.40 has, currently, a ‘dead eight’ field and, although Paul Nicholls‘ runner Switch Hitter is shorter in the betting, we prefer his other runner Diese Des Bieffes at 15-2.
This 8-y-o is really well handicapped from its time with Nicky Henderson and the two runs for this yard (both over fences), coming after a break of 2+ years, will have served to put the edge back. Looks the value play, especially with Angus Cheleda taking off the 7lbs.
Third and last televised race from Kempton is the Virgin Bet Handicap Chase at 3.15 and in this we are very keen on the chances of Smarty Wild.
CD winner in January and ahead of today’s fav Falco Blitz at Ascot last October, Smarty ran a fine race in defeat at Warwick last time out when a close fifth of 12 in a better race than this. Tom O’Brien takes over from Dear Dickie and we recommend a slightly lumpy each way bet at 4-1.
Over at Uttoxeter, highlight is the Marstons Midlands Grand National at 3.35 and, we don’t quite know how to say this folks, post Cheltenham, but we think the Irish will win it.
Their sole representative is Screaming Colours, trained by Bill Durkan.
The 10-y-o comes here fresh from a close second in the Punchestown Grand National Trial and it wasn’t stopping at the end of that 3m 4f contest, suggesting that the 4m+ of today’s race is well within compass. We recommend an each way bet at 6-1.
We also must have a tiny saver on Prime Venture at 25-1.
A staying on 5th in the Welsh version and suited by better ground this afternoon dear old PV has a chance, provided Darling Izzy can remain on board (not guaranteed).
First race on telly is the Marstons Brewery Handicap Hurdle at 1.50 and in this its hard to get away from the credentials of Saint Dalina. Charlie Longsdon‘s 7-y-o is already a CD winner and her latest close third of 15 at Ascot is undoubtedly the strongest from on offer. We recommend a decent whack each way at 9-2.
We also suggest a small each way bet on Hot Ryan at 16-1. Back with Chris Honour after a spell with David Pipe and still only 8, HR ran a stormer in its first run for 18 months at Taunton earlier this month and could well outrun its odds.
The 1834 Novices’ Handicap Chase at 2.35 has a good each way shape so we’ll recommend one – Eclair Surf at 11-2, please.
Last and possibly least is the Burton Union Handicap Hurdle at 3.00 and we are going to leave this in the hooves of the class act that is Wilde About Oscar. The esteemed Skeltons will know whether a mark of 146 is workable for the horse’s handicap debut and wouldn’t run otherwise, so we should back it to win at 3-1.
Sunday tomorrow – a well earned day off (please)
Onthefrontfoot 2.05 Kempton 1pt e/w @ 7-1 (3 places Ladbrokes, Coral)
Diese Des Bieffe 2.40 Kempton 1pt e/w @ 15-2
Smarty Wild 3.15 Kempton 2.5pts e/w @ 4-1
Screaming Colours 3.35 Uttoxeter 1.5pts e/w @ 6-1 (5 places)
Prime Venture 3.35 Uttoxeter 0.5pts e/w @ 25-1 (5 places)
Saint Dalina 1.50 Uttoxeter 2.5pts e/w @ 9-2 (Hills, Bet365)
Hot Ryan 1.50 Uttoxeter 1pt e/w @ 16-1
Eclair Surf 2.25 Uttoxeter 1pt e/w @ 11-2
Wilde About Oscar 3.00 Uttoxeter 2pts win @ 3-1