5pm Considering it’s snowing, half the training fraternity are in the Caribbean and many of the decent horses had their flu jab on January 2nd the cards at Warwick and Kempton ain’t bad at all, trust me they WILL both go ahead.
Disappointed Valseur Lido joins Don Cossack and Coneygree in missing the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. John Cornwall must be doing his sums and considering supplementing Flichity and/or The Jugopolist!
Saturday’s chosen few!
Warwick 1.50 AMERICAN 4/1 PP 7/2 general
Kempton 2.40 KALONDRA 12/1 PP 10/1 general
Warwick 3.35 ONE FOR ARTHUR 10/1 Coral 9/1 general
Kempton 3.45 RIVER FROST 7/4 general
and here’s why
Warwick 1.50 AMERICAN What a cracking Listed three mile novice chase this is. Run well here and you could be looking at the RSA or 4m NH Chase at Cheltenham or the Midlands National the Saturday after. I am a huge fan of American and although trainer Harry Fry describes the horse as “fragile” I think he oozes class. 3m on winter ground, a stiff jumping test and Noel Fehily in the saddle are absolutely ideal.
In the Tub isn’t good enough. Chef D’Oeuvre will love the ground but this could really test his jumping, solid handicapper down the line. I have Mystical Knight on my shortlist for the 4m NH chase and Pobbles Bay likewise for the Midlands National, so victory for either wouldn’t surprise me. Champers on Ice has the sexy form, he was third in the 2016 Alfred Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival behind UnowhatImeanharry but he’ll have to jump better than he did on fencing debut if he is to live up to trainer David Pipe’s RSA expectations.
Kempton 2.40 KALONDRA When I had a good look at this race on Tuesday I backed Lisheen Prince @ 12/1 (now non-runner) and Jaleo @ 10/1. However having revisited it this morning I’m drawn to Neil Mulhollands charge Kalondra. The horse has been winning and rising up the ratings but he’s a hold up horse and you never know much they have in hand but it’s the jockey booking that really swung it as Richard Johnson is ideal for this type of horse.
All the money in the last 48 hours has been for Chesterfield, who like Jaleo is an ex-Godolphin horse who used to be trained by John Ferguson, down from 33/1 to 10/1 but I’m not a fan of either trainer or jockey, four winners from 79 runners since 1st October.
Richard Johnson Betway blog “I’ve got another ride for Neil in the big race of the day, the Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40pm). Kalondra won well last time at Ascot and has a progressive profile. It helps that Old Guard has stayed in to keep the weights down and I hope my horse can run a good race in what is always a very competitive handicap.”
Warwick 3.35 ONE FOR ARTHUR Had a look at this race on Tuesday as well and backed One for Arthur at 14/1 and Viva Steve at 10/1. I was at Cheltenham for Paddy Power day in 2015 when One for Arthur kept on behind Vicente (Scottish National) and Un Temps Pour Tout (Cheltenham handicap winner) and Blaklion fell (RSA winner) in a 3m handicap and noting Lucinda Russell could have a National type on her hands, she was a long way from home. He kept good company for the rest of last season without winning but won over an extended 3m2f at Kelso before running a solid fifth to Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher chase over the National fences. To use one of my favourite phrases, tomorrow I think all his ducks are in line. Heavy in the going, extreme distance and a stiff jumping test. Derek Fox knows the horse well and hopefully won’t make the hold-up tactics too exaggerated. Looking to top my win with a further each way single tomorrow, looking for five places!
Viva Steve may have found the ground has gone against him. I can understand the market support for Shotgun Paddy and Ballycross but the former hasn’t won since this race two years ago although he has continually dined at the top table of staying handicaps and as for the latter it’s a big ask for a 6yo even with his light weight.
Kempton 3.45 RIVER FROST Wasn’t top of my list at first glance but there are an awful lot of question marks over the opposition. River Frost is inexperienced but improving and OR123 may underestimate his talents. On hurdling debut he was an excellent third to Apasionada and Lisheen Prince, despite running green. He won at Plumpton looking much more professional and Barry Geraghty (sigh now!) rides him, as he did in his previous two races.
Now the rest. Ozzie the Oscar stopped as shot last time, if he wins expect to hear the words “wind-op”! Meet the Legend was my selection in the Lanzarote but he needs to settle before I go in again. He wears a hood and a tongue tie! Allee Bleue has beaten just three horses out of thirty in his last two races and Richard Johnson leaves him to the 7lb claiming stable amateur. As for the other Dan Skelton runner, Ashoka, since coming off the Flat in Ireland he’s been fancied in some decent company but has run to suggest he’s pronounced a-shocker! I can’t have Artifice Sivola, dual winner at Fakenham which means the main danger could be New Member.
Dan Skelton Coral blog “3.45 Kempton – Ashoka has been off for a while. He actually fractured his pelvis going to the first hurdle at Sandown last year. I’ve done plenty with him and he’s been jumping nicely but this is a chance to see how he is back on the track and where he stands.
I really fancied Meet The Legend at Ascot last time. We dropped him in that day and he wasn’t that comfortable doing that, and he was just too keen. I do think he is a progressive horse but we need to see him settle better.”
Richard Johnson Betway blog “My final ride of the day is Ozzie The Oscar in the handicap hurdle (3:35pm). We’ve no idea why he ran so disappointingly at Newbury last time.”
As for the rest of the weekend keep an eye on Mount Mews in the Wetherby 12.30, if the meeting goes ahead. Smarter than the average Northern novice hurdler. There is a Neptune trial at Warwick where something beginning with G will win it and I hope Peregrine Run gets caught out by the ground and the connections run him in the Coral Cup! Please? Otherwise it’s eyes on Punchestown where Crack Mome will put his Supreme credentials on the line in the G2 Moscow Flyer but he has two worthy opponents in Dr Mikey and Runfordave. Willie Mullins also has Kolumbus, a never nearer second to Bacardys, in the maiden hurdle at 2.45 and Bachasson in the beginners chase at 12.25 up against last season’s Pertemps Final winner, Mall Dini. As for a bet you could do worse than have an each way tickle in the 1.35 on It Came To Pass @ 8/1.
Not exactly big and clever but they both won! Returned £36.52 to a tenner.
Huntingdon 1.50 BURBANK 4/6 1st
Impressive winner of his bumper and the beaten here by Glaring on his hurdling debut when hassled from two out and then got mugged. Hopefully he’ll be wiser this time.
Huntingdon 3.20 OO SEVEN 6/5 1st
When he won at Cheltenham my notebook says” this is a serious horse”. Didn’t stay the 3 miles last time and he is a better horse going right-handed. I cannot believe he is in a handicap.
The double currently pays a bit better than 5/2 (William Hill).