Our gallops guru rounds up the best bets for the weekend, with high hopes for Alan King's novice Talkischeap in the valuable handicap at Kempton.
Kimberlite Candy (2.40 Newcastle)
Kimberlite Candy can make youth count over experience in the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle on Saturday. This extended four miler has always been a tough race to win, but the ground may not be quite as exhausting as in some years, and Tom Lacey’s unexposed stayer looks nicely weighted to launch a bold bid, especially with his stable firing well at present. A patient strategy has seen three wins over fences so far, and he showed that a big handicap could be within his grasp with an eye-catching third to Classic Ben at Sandown three weeks ago. He stayed on well up the hill in the soft ground, and looks worth taking a chance with on his first appearance over a marathon trip.
Burrows Edge (1.15 Kempton)
Burrows Edge can kick off an important afternoon on a high note for Nicky Henderson in the 888Sport Handicap Hurdle at Kempton. A winner at Hereford and Market Rasen during his first season over timber, there was plenty of evidence to suggest this two miles five furlongs will suit him well and that he will improve during his second campaign. Although he starts late, he has been in good form at home, and connections believe his mark of 130 is very workable.
Angels Breath (3.00 Kempton)
Angels Breath should give his Festival prospects a boost with victory in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices Hurdle, but it will surprise no one at Seven Barrows if the highly rated mare Daphne Du Clos runs a big race. A smart bumper performer until injury intervened two years ago, she was a tad disappointing at Huntingdon on her only outing since a month ago. However, she has pleased in her recent work, and could be one to reward an each-way interest at a decent price.
Bags Groove (1.50 Kempton)
Noel Fehily, rider of Daphne Du Clos, has endured a few weeks of which nightmares are made, but he is looking forward to getting back on Bags Groove in the Grade 2 888 Sport Pendil Novices Chase and he should be up to conceding weight all round. A dedicated flat track, good ground performer, he has everything in his favour here, and will appreciate the step back from three miles after a below par effort in Grade 1 company here on Boxing Day. His stable is back in form after a quiet mid-Winter, and he should confirm his running with old rival Secret Investor, who was beaten nine lengths into second at Wincanton in November.
Talkischeap (3.35 Kempton)
Talkischeap is just preferred to Rather Be in the 888 Sport Handicap Chase. Alan King’s gelding is only a novice, but he has plenty of experience if his point to point form is included, and he ran a great race to finish second to Rather Be’s stablemate On The Blind Side over this course and distance on his latest start. The winner is strongly fancied for the RSA Chase at the Festival if the ground is good by the Henderson team, and the selection’s valiant attempt to try and concede him 6lbs was a good effort. If he does beat Rather Be, who is back in good nick after a disappointing run at Cheltenham in December, the champion trainer may not feel too down on his luck!
Gorgeous Noora (2.05 Lingfield)
Archie Watson's Gorgeous Noora is backed to return to winning ways in the Betway Hever Sprint Stakes. She's made a very bright start for the yard having switched from Luca Cumani's and dropping back to five furlongs here is expected to play to her strengths.
Main Street (3.50 Lingfield)
It may pay to take a chance on Main Street in the Follow Sun Racing On Twitter Handicap. David Elsworth is always a trainer to command respect and he may be the man to bring this smart performer back to form after a gelding operation. The silver-haired maestro took over the four-year-old during the depths of winter, and he has appeared just once for his new trainer, in the Winter Derby Trial here three weeks ago. He did not show much behind easy winner Wissahickon, but he will be sharper for his first outing since a dud run for previous trainer John Gosden at Royal Ascot last June. If he can recapture his best form, he should go well off his mark of 97, and can give Chevalier and Goring, the past two winners of this race, plenty to think about.
If The Cap Fits (2.50 Fontwell)
If The Cap Fits should also go close for the Fry-Fehily combination in the Netbet Casino National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell on Sunday. The Sussex course has dug deep and stumped up an £80,000 purse for this Champion Hurdle Trial. If The Cap Fits would be a deserving winner. He boasts some top class form from the first half of the season, which includes a close third to the very speedy Verdana Blue and reigning champ Buveur D’Air in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle, and a win at Ascot the previous month. That success came at this level over a very similar trip, and his recent work suggests he is ready for the challenge after his two month break.
Von Humboldt (No entries)
News and current affairs from across the Irish Sea occasionally wash up on Pigeon Shores and we can pass on a good word for the Charles Byrne-trained Von Humboldt who was in the bumper at Naas on Sunday but hasn't been declared. A winner of a similar event at Punchestown a year ago on his only start so far, the form looks solid enough and he has pleased in his recent work. Wherever he goes next, he should be worth noting.