The fayre from the ITV today is seven live races from Kempton and Warwick with the two feature races coming in two open looking handicaps in the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton and the Classic Handicap Chase from Warwick. Two good betting heats with extra places on offer from our bookmaker friends. The ground is likely to ride testing at both courses and here’s my thoughts on the seven races.
Only seven go to post for this three miles class 2 handicap chase with all having a chance of sorts. Top weight Enrilo was travelling well at the time when crashing out in the race won by Frodon at Wincanton ten weeks ago and if on song must go well for Messr’s Nicholls and Cobden although the ten week absence is a bit of a worry having taken such a pearler of a fall. Evan Williams’ Annsam was last seen when 6th in the Coral Gold Cup (Hennessy to us old boys!) and having been dropped a couple of pounds is another with a shout. Chris Honour is an under rated trainer based in the West Country and saddles Tile Tapper here who had one of today’s rivals Smarty Wild just behind over course and distance 18 days ago when runner up to Remastered. That was arguably a stronger race than this and he’s the play here for me. Kitty’s Light has fallen to a winning mark and shouldn’t be totally dismissed now that his trainer Christian Williams has found some winning form. Bottom weight Tile Tapper will do for me on ground that should suit with Bryan Carver taking the reigns.
TILE TAPPER 2 points win @ 3/1 BetVictor
Only four got to post for this three mile grade 2 Novices’ Chase. Gordon Elliott is represented by The Goffer, a winner at Thurles in November who chased home the Willie Mullins trained Ha D’or a month later. Elliott is over here with three runners at this meeting and the trio have to be respected. Paul Nicholls saddles the favourite in Complete Unknown who looked one to follow when winning on his chase debut at Ffos Las in handicap company in December and Nicholls has won this race for the last two years. With Harry Cobden at Kempton Lorcan Williams comes in for this plum ride. Outsider Gentleman at Arms has it too do here despite his trainer Stuart Edmunds being in such good form. Dan Skelton’s seven year old mare (the only mare in the race) Galia Des Liteaux flopped when nicely backed at Kempton on Boxing Day in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase having clouted the second and if able to over look that effort can be a player here. Local handler Skelton is going through a rather quiet spell at the moment by his high standards with just the one winner in the his last 26 runners but I’ll take him to small stakes to defeat the favourite.
GALIA DES LITEAUX 1 point win @ 5/2 William Hill
Pic D’Orhy is likely to be a warm order here for the 2m 4 1/2F grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase named after his old stable mate trained by Paul Nicholls. He may well win this but I don’t think he’s any value at the prices with the ground so soft and also carrying a 6lb penalty for his recent victory at Huntington, the Peterborough Chase. Official ratings don’t even have him top rated here with Paint The Dream holding that accolade. A very easy winner at Newbury in November he should be thereabouts today with his owners son Conor Brace riding. We also have a pair of smart re-appearing chasers in Angels Breath who’s now with Sam Thomas having left Nicky Henderson and being off for 1,121 days and Tom George’s Clondaw Castle who’s coming here on the back of a break of 420 days. It’s hard to fancy either after such a long lay off and are easily dismissed. Coole Cody beat the hard pulling Saint Calvados in a match at Ascot eight weeks ago and is now 2lb worse off for 10L. David Maxwell owns and rides the latter and was badly shown up on him in that race and it would be no surprise if that’s the case again here despite the horse wearing a first time hood. I want to be against Pic D’Orhy here although he may have to win by default! I’ll go with Paint The Dream and team Fergal O’Brien.
PAINT THE DREAM 1 points win @ 5/2 bet365
A decent renewal of the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, a grade two event run over 2m 5F. Stuart Edmunds’ Mexico has a bit to find with Ginny’s Destiny and is easy to dismiss but a fair chance can be given to each of the remaining six. Tom Lacey’s Ginnys Destiny is the highest rated of these and having won over course and distance back in November has to be a serious player here under Stan Sheppard. Gary Moore saddles his promising seven year old Givega who’s unbeaten having won a point to point and novice hurdles at Lingfield and Fontwell. This is a step up for him but he could be anything. Dan Skelton’s Grey Dawning did us a favour when winning at Kempton on Boxing Day in a handicap and will love the heavy ground. He should be thereabouts. Knowsley Road is chasing a hat trick of wins following victories at Chepstow at the back end of last year and Paul Nicholls’ six year old who has the assistance of Lorcan Williams is another with claims. A tough race to call but I’ll stick with Grey Dawning who is reportedly highly rated by the Skeltons.
GREY DAWNING 1 point win @ 7/2 bet365
A bumper maximum field of twenty hurdlers line up for the latest renewal of the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle run over 2m 5F of the Sunbury track. The two least exposed horses head the market in Paul Nicholls’ novice Outlaw Peter who’s making his handicap debut under Harry Cobden having won at Exeter last time by just under twenty lengths and Irish raider Green Glory trained by Charlie Byrnes who impressed when winning on his handicap debut at Leopardstown over Christmas but does have to race here off of a 16lb higher handicap mark. Last year’s winner Cobblers Dream is back to defend his title off of a 10lb higher mark having finished runner up in two novice handicap chases this season. Harry Fry’s Dubrovnik Harry is another who’s been chasing this season having finished third at Exeter in November. He’s lightly raced doesn’t look that badly treated on ground that will suit. Nicky Henderson has a good record in this race and saddles a brace of runners in Pentland Hills who’s also been chasing this season and Rathmacknee (presumably the pick of stable number one Nico De Boinville). Ben Pauling saddles Quinta Do Mar who’s Fontwell win in November has been boosted since by the dual win of the runner up Irish Saint since. He was third and 4L down when falling at the last in this race last year off of the same mark and could run well at big odds. A real minefield of a race but I’ll stick with the Charlie Byrnes runner Green Glory who has to be respected coming over from Ireland.
GREEN GLORY 1 point each way @ 5/1 bet365 1/5th 123456
A good turnout for the feature race of the day at Warwick with fourteen going to post for the Wigley Group Classic Handicap Chase run over 3m 5F. At the head of the market is a rare Willie Mullins runner away from the big festivals in Mr Incredible. He is a bit quirky (has the Timeform squiggle) and has yet to race beyond three miles. Brian Hayes is over to ride him but if he wasn’t trained by Mr Mullins would be at least double his current odds. I’ll be taking him on. Top weight Threeunderthrufive trained by champion trainer Paul Nicholls who will be watching the race from his holiday destination in the Caribean, was last seen when unseating at the first in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in November and he like Mr Incredible has yet to race beyond three miles in a race which will surely be all about stamina on desperate ground. Sam Thomas’s Iwilldoit hasn’t been seen since winning the Welsh Grand National 383 days ago and although stamina is his game may just need this. Alan King’s Notachance won this event two years ago off of a handicap mark 9lb lower today. Under Tom Cannon he should be thereabouts with no question marks over stamina and ground. He was however behind my fancy on his latest start at Bangor in November when 11 1/4L away from Richard Hobson’s Lord Du Mesnil who went without his customary headgear that day and ran a blinder to get to within 4 3/4L of Le Milos who went to on top win the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury. He adores soft ground, stays well and is 3lb below his latest winning mark. An out and out stayer he looks a good each way bet to my eyes with a saver on Notachance.
LORD DU MESNIL 1 point each way @ 9/1 bet365 1/5th 1234
NOTACHANCE 1 point each way @ 9/1 bet365 1/5th 1234
The final race of the day from Ed Chamberlin and the gang is a nine runner 3M 1F class 2 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, a qualifier for the final at Cheltenham in March. Two classy Irish stayers head the weights here in Gordon Elliott’s Sire Du Berlais and CIaran Murphy’s Ronald Pump. The former ran a 8 1/2L 4th in this last year and one would imagine it will be the same scenario again with his canny trainer hoping to get the English handicapper to drop him a pound or two with the final in mind. He’s not shown much in three starts in Ireland this season anyway. It’s been awhile since Ronald Pump visited the winners enclosure (November 2019 and 19 runs) and he too is overlooked. Nicky Henderson saddles a brace in On The Blind Side and The Bomber Liston. The most interesting of the pair is the latter who ran 4th to Grey Dawning at Kempton on Boxing Day and will appreciate stepping up an additional half a mile here. The problem with him is that he is running here from 5lb out of the handicap. Charlie Longsdon’s Glimpse Of Gala is a consistent mare who looked good when beating Coquelicot at Kempton over Christmas under 7lb conditional jockey Bradley Roberts. He’s in the saddle once more and should be thereabouts. The Skelton’s Ashton Lad bolted up last time in the Becher where he was always travelling like the winner and came home 2 1/4L ahead of his field. He reverts to hurdles now and appeals as the most likely winner here off of a 3lb lower handicap mark than last time.
ASHTOWN LAD 2 points win @ 11/4 bet365
All odds accurate at the time of writing.