Alex Hammond blog and tips for Warwick, Kempton and Punchestown

Petite Power (left)
Petite Power (left)

Alex Hammond knows Petite Power better than most and thinks he could run a massive race in one of Saturday's feature races.

Where is your money going in this weekend’s big betting heat - the Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton?

Well Sky Bet have installed Notre Pari as their 11/4 favourite and it’s easy to see why as Olly Murphy’s runner is unexposed and improving.

The JPMcManus owned 6-year-old got off the mark over hurdles at the fifth time of asking in a handicap at Aintree a month ago and whilst none of his rivals that day have franked the form in subsequent runs, he did it easily and looks capable of defying an 8lbs rise for his in-form yard.

He seems pretty short in a race that historically is incredibly competitive, so let’s try and find something to give him a run for his money.

Nicky Henderson has won the race a few times in recent years and the race could go his way again. He’s represented by Burrows Edge and Theinval with both runners reverting to hurdles having been running over fences; the latter hasn’t run over hurdles since April 2015.

He has an excellent record at Kempton over hurdles though and isn’t badly handicapped. It’s the former I’m keen on here and whilst he's also reverting to hurdles, it's only after one run over fences when he tipped up at Ludlow when well fancied on his seasonal reappearance.

He runs off the same hurdles mark as when third in a handicap over Saturday's course and distance last spring. He was consistent over hurdles last season and I don't think he’s handicapped out of it.

At 11/2 he appeals more than the favourite. A word of caution, my selection is Burrows Edge and there’s a Burrows Park in the race so don’t get them mixed up.

Is Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up The Conditional the standout contender for Warwick’s Classic Chase?

Well there’s no doubt David Bridgwater’s runner has plenty to recommend him as he’s only 5lbs higher in the weights for his second place to De Rasher Counter in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and that form is rock solid.

That was his third run for his new trainer and he thinks plenty of this 8-year-old, so I expect there will be a decent race to be won with him. He’s 4/1 with Sky Bet which doesn’t put me off a huge amount.

Le Breuil won’t be put off by this test of stamina as last year’s National Hunt Chase winner thrives over extreme trips. He should be sharper for his two starts this season (one over hurdles and one over Aintree’s big fences) and his trainer Ben Pauling has been back amongst the winners recently.

He’s a 6/1 shot. I’d love to see Petite Power win, but that’s heart ruling head as I rode this horse out at Fergal O’Brien’s yard when we took the Sky Sports Racing cameras to his new yard recently.

He’s no forlorn hope though and could be an each way shout at 9/1. He was just beaten by a mare called Belle Empress at Exeter last time out and she subsequently finished fourth in the Sussex National at Plumpton last Sunday.

He's a model of consistency and deserves to get his head in front again.

How is Sunday’s Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle shaping up as far as Cheltenham clues are concerned?

Well Andy Dufresne is a 20/1 shot at the moment for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with sponsors and that may change if things go to plan at Punchestown on Sunday for Gordon Elliott’s talented young hurdler.

He’s 4/5 with the firm at the time of writing thanks to his win in a maiden hurdle at Navan followed by a decent second at the same track in Grade 2 company.

On the face of it that was a disappointing run as he was sent off the short priced favourite that day, but the two and a half mile trip probably stretched him and the winner Latest Exhibition is now 14/1 for the Albert Bartlett and the same price for the Ballymore, so he essentially outstayed Andy Dufresne.

The drop back to two miles should see normal order restored and he’s an exciting horse for the future; he cost a whopping £330,000 after winning his sole point-to-point in Ireland in March 2018.

He may well stay further in time, but at this stage of his career this trip suits well. Elliott has been patient with his charge and that patience deserves to be rewarded.

Captain Guinness is one to watch for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore as he has a lovely jumping pedigree and steps up in grade having won on his only start to date in a maiden hurdle at Navan last month, but I’m sticking with the favourite here as he’s an exciting horse and one I definitely want to keep on side.


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