Love Affair at Kempton
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's feature action at Warwick and Kempton.
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1350 Warwick: Betfred Mobile Lotto Novices' Chase
Rocky Creek looked like an out-and-out stayer when beating Molotof at Doncaster and, on a line through the smart Harry Topper, looks to have a little to find with HIGHLAND LODGE. Emma Lavelle's novice was trying to give 3lb to that one at Newbury and has won impressively at Cheltenham since. Forgotten Gold is progressing nicely but may have to settle for a place back up in trip while Fill The Power, second twice in decent handicaps lately, may just lack the class of a couple of these. Tour Des Champs won on his chasing bow at Uttoxeter and easily landed a handicap at Ludlow last time but will need a lot more to trouble the principals here.
1405 Kempton: William Hill iPad App Now Available Handicap Chase
Both Havingotascoobydo and last year's runner-up Triangular would have claims in this grade if recapturing their best form, though the former is more likely to go to Wetherby. Niceonefrankie represents an in-form yard but may still be a few pounds too high and Five Rivers needs to improve a little on what he's shown so far over fences, though is probably capable of doing so. Cruchain is 10lb lower than successful 12 months ago so has to go on the short-list but BALLY LEGEND has the better recent form. Caroline Keevil's eight-year-old has won off a higher mark over hurdles and has been placed in all three starts over fences. He looks ready to open his account now.
1425 Warwick: Pertemps Handicap Hurdle
Unravelling these qualifiers is never easy as many of the runners are likely to have bigger targets further down the line, if not the final itself. This race is further complicated by the fact that several are better known as chasers, though potentially well handicapped over timber.
One such is THE PACKAGE, who won the Listed Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton on his reappearance and was then fourth in the Hennessy off a mark of 147, 13lb higher than today's rating. He gets a tentative vote but it would be no surprise to see the fast-improving De La Bech go close to completing his hat-trick while Storm Survivor stayed on well to score at Doncaster two weeks ago. His trainer, Jonjo O'Neill, also runs former Festival winner Sunnyhillboy and the consistent Holywell while Ely Brown, The Jugopolist and Alpha Victor also enter the equation but Hollow Tree gets little respite from the handicapper.
1440 Kempton: William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle
There are some potentially well-treated handicappers lining up here, including Captain Sunshine and November's Cheltenham winner Buck Magic. Loose Chips and Victor Leudorum arrive in good form, as does Trackmate, while Philip Hobbs saddles both Lamb Or Cod and Uncle Jimmy. Araldur made a winning reappearance at Sandown while Oscara Dara is back over hurdles after finishing second to Cantlow over fences at Plumpton, though he's unproven over this trip.
His trainer, Nicky Henderson, also has BEAR'S AFFAIR in the race and this lightly-raced son of Presenting is fancied to concede weight all round if in the same form as when winning easily under 5lb claimer Jeremiah McGrath at Aintree. Black Thunder has been raised 6lb since his second at Haydock while Rigidity is too inconsistent to merit serious consideration and Son Of Flicka is possibly being readied for a return visit to the Festival, where he sprang a surprise last year.
1500 Warwick: Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle
All eyes here will be on THE NEW ONE, who attempts to extend his unbeaten record over hurdles and stay on course for Cheltenham. A very smart performer in bumpers last season, he's been impressive so far over timber and can shrug off a three-month absence to beat Hold Court, another who is two out of two over obstacles so far, and Mickie. Henry Daly's mare was well behind Hold Court at Ludlow in the autumn but has made giant strides since and deserves a crack at this level. Dursey Sound represents his yard instead of the useful At Fishers Cross but may be found wanting in this grade and the others need to improve on what they've shown so far to figure.
1515 Kempton: William Hill - Download The App Handicap Chase
Ben Case has done really well with the fragile Handtheprizeover, who has won both starts this season at Wincanton and Doncaster. He just lasted home two weeks ago, however, and is 8lb higher now. Golden Chieftain isn't exactly consistent and is high enough in the weights at present while Brackloon High dropped away tamely when favourite over C&D last time and Mush Mir's latest second came in a jumpers' bumper. Stoney's Treasure should improve on his third at Newbury but BAILE ANRAI will also have benefited from his comeback run and, if able to reproduce his useful novice form of last season, Ian Williams's charge could be the one today.
1535 Warwick: Betfred Classic Chase:
Pete The Feat has risen 40lb in the weights since starting his winning run in the autumn but pulled right away from his rivals in the Mandarin Chase at Newbury two weeks ago and shouldn't disgrace himself in this better contest. Restless Harry was a smart staying hurdler and is unexposed over fences, though didn't have much to beat last time, while Bradley ran subsequent Welsh National hero Monbeg Dude to a neck at Cheltenham two runs ago and would have every chance on that form.
Godsmejudge has scope and could appreciate the step up in distance but is giving 6lb to RIGADIN DE BEAUCHENE, who may well be the best handicapped horse in the race. Rob Dunne is the eight-year-old's regular partner and claims a further 3lb off Venetia Williams' gelding, who has been brought along steadily this season and could be ready to double his career tally now given a thorough test of stamina. His stable has been in cracking form since the turn of the year.