Neil Morrice walks you through the front runners for Saturday’s racing at Chelmsford, Lingfield, Kempton Park and Warwick, including the feature race analysis for the Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle and the Warwick Classic Chase.
Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle
The main betting heat on this card sees Nicky Henderson, successful with William Henry in 2018, sending out a two-pronged challenge with THEINVAL returning to hurdles as a second string to BURROWS EDGE who also ran over fences on his latest outing.
While Theinval has plenty to prove at present, Burrows Edge has a great deal going for him, having run well in defeat at this course last season. The 7yo jumped accurately in the main in a novices’ handicap chase at Ludlow before Christmas, only to crumple on landing when disputing the lead four from home. The jury is out on whether he would have won, but he had done everything right to that point.
Olly Murphy’s NOTRE PARI has been lively in the ante-post book and that came as no surprise judging from the way he put behind him a couple of defeats when favourite by scoring decisively over this trip at Aintree. It was his first outing in a handicap and an 8lb rise still leaves him an unexposed player that can earn, with his good form at a Market a Rasen a testament to his ability to operate on a right-handed track.
From a consistency viewpoint, LARKBARROW LAD is hard to leave out of any exotics, having yet to finish out of the first two in his career over hurdles. The slight issue is that his last two outings were over brush hurdles at Worcester, a track now relegated to hosting summer jumping only, and his last appearance was back in October.
Dan Skelton’s NORTHOFTHEWALL is a novice bidding to meet the challenge of a step up in class but should not be discarded after impressively opening her account for the season by a wide margin in a Hereford maiden hurdle.
BURROWS PARK also brings Hereford form to the table having landed a Class 2 handicap there in December. The 8yo made all on that occasion and should again try to stamp his authority from on the pace.
One that could get into the shake-up at double-figure odds is VIVE LE ROI whose third in a big field behind Champers On Ice at Newbury reads very appealingly.
1st BURROWS EDGE
2nd Notre Pari
3rd Vive Le Roi
5th Larkbarrow Lad
Warwick Classic Chase
It won’t come as any surprise to see the good record of veterans in this boosted by the likes of PETITE POWER. Fergal O’Brien’s charge was raised 6lb for being beaten a neck at Exeter last time which marked the end of an impressive winning sequence with amateur Liam Harrison in the irons. However, the combination are certainly not going backwards and stamina is the 11-year-old’s strong suit.
KIMBERLITE CANDY has contested a number of prestigious handicap chases with a variety of outcomes. On the downside, Tom Lacey’s runner jumped poorly in last season’s Eider Chase at Newcastle before blowing out when sent to Fairyhouse for the Irish National at Easter. Against that, the gelding found only Walk In The Mill his master in the Becher Chase at Aintree on his latest start, with the principals pulling clear. He wasn’t stopping at the end of three and a quarter miles which augers well for him getting this longer distance.
The money that came in for last year’s winner IMPULSIVE STAR suggests Neil Mulholland has his 10yo fine-tuned after seeing him pulled up for the third time in as many starts at Cheltenham last month.
BOBO MAC ran into a handicap snip in Roll Again at Ludlow, an effort that puts the Tom Symonds-trained gelding firmly in the mix, while Colin Tozzard’s DARLAC also merits close consideration even though he’s yet to win this season.
Winner of the corresponding race in 2018, MILANSBAR carries almost a stone less but has deteriorated, while top weight LE BREUIL is plenty short enough at around 6-1 for a horse that was beaten almost 20 lengths in the Becher Chase.
1st PETITE POWER
2nd Kimberlite Candy
3rd Bobo Mac
4th The Conditional
5th Impulsive Star
6th Le Breuil
Warwick Undercard Best Bets
Race 3: HOLD THE NOTE (3)
Trainer: Mick Channon – Jockey: Jonathan Burke
HOLD THE NOTE was taken out of the novices’ handicap chase at Kempton on Boxing Day when front running Roll Again crashed just as the race was starting to take shape. He appeared to be travelling kindly in the slipstream of that rival, making it hard to fathom why he is more than twice the price of his rival in this rematch. He’s the nicest young prospect amongst Mick Channon’s jumpers and can bounce back.
Race 6: ONE FOR THE TEAM (12)
Trainer: Nick Williams – Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
Representing Newbury form from November that stands up to the closest inspection, ONE FOR THE TEAM jumps off the page as a well-weighted candidate for this stayers’ handicap hurdle. His conqueror Champers On Ice certainly hasn’t let the form down and the selection looks sure to have a big say after being freshened up by his astute trainer.
Kempton Undercard Bets
Race 1: FRASER ISLAND (1)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Nico de Boinville
Having skipped the tougher Chatteris Fen Hurdle at Huntingdon to wait for this, FRASER ISLAND can give us a flying start to the day in this opening juvenile hurdle. The former smart stayer on the Flat landed some hefty wagers on his debut over jumps at Newbury where he was in complete command from the penultimate flight. He also jumped with eclat, and this can prove a small step towards the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Race 6: ON THE BLIND SIDE (1)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Nico de Boinville
Time may show that ON THE BLIND SIDE was attempting the impossible to match it with new kid on the block Riders On the Storm at Ascot, but he made a good fist of it for much of the way in that graduation chase. His seven-length defeat might soon be seen to read particularly well, but in the meantime, the lightly-raced 8yo can make the best of it returned to handicap company.
Lingfield Best Bets
Race 2: SASSOON (7)
Trainer: Paul Cole – Jockey: Ben Curtis
SASSOON is on a recovery mission after failing to menace when favourite on his latest start but his trainer now gambles on a big step up the distance ladder to assist his cause. The blinkered selection has been largely disappointing but has the ability and the booking of Curtis is a positive.
Race 4: ULTIMATE AVENUE (5)
Trainer: David Simcock – Jockey: Luke Morris
The hooded ULTIMATE AVENUE steps up the class ladder and has it to do on the ratings, but against that he has knocked on the door including when finishing with gusto behind Mohareb here at the end of last month and he could be worth chancing to cause a minor upset.
Race 5: SHAFFIRE (9)
Trainer: Harry Whittington – Jockey: Nicola Currie
Whittington does well with his few runners on the Flat and SHAFFIRE can go well, getting stacks of weight from her rivals in this fillies’ handicap. She’s troubled the judge on her last two starts and performs as if her turn is close at hand. She was put up a long way in the ratings after her promising run here and may have finished closer than fourth last time had she not been pushed wide turning in.
Chelmsford Best Bets
Race 3: XIAN EXPRESS (1)
Trainer: Mike Appleby – Jockey: Ben Curtis
Having been all out to get up when sent off at 1-12 over the minimum trip at Southwell, XIAN EXPRESS now takes a big jump up in trip to a mile. His trainer sends out the blinkered top-weight to strike while the iron is hot and if he stays he should win.
Race 5: ROTHERWICK (4) (Each Way)
Trainer: Paul Cole – Jockey: David Probert
He might have been round the block a few times but ROTHERWICK can show he’s no back number for a stable doing well with its few all-weather runners. This looks a winnable opportunity for the blinkered gelding who will receive top assistance from the saddle.