1-30 @ Lingfield – TONE THE BARONE (11/4)
Tone The Barone is a real course and distance specialist. His last win around this track came around this time last year but following a slow start to his season this year, he finally got off the mark at Wolves last time out. On that occasion he got the better of Fernando Rah and when sprinters hit form, it often pays to stick with them. The Stuart Williams trained seven-year-old is bidding for a fourteenth career win in just thirty-seven starts and having won on him last time, Sean Levey retains the ride today. There is likely to be plenty of pace on up here with the likes of Look Out Louis and Miss Nay Never in the field. That could well set it up for the likes of the selection.
1-50 @ Kempton – SCRIPTWRITER (7/4)
The Adonis Hurdle has been won by some smart types in the past including Well Chief, Kasbah Bliss and more recently Knight Salute. The latter of those was trained by Milton Harris and he relies on Scriptwriter in order for him to retain the trophy. The four-year-old was trained on the flat at Ballydoyle by Aidan O’Brien and won a race over a mile at Gowran Park for team Ballydoyle. Since being sold and joining his current yard, he has made a seamless transition to hurdling. He won on debut at Sedgefield and followed that up at Cheltenham in Triumph Hurdle trial. He then won a decent handicap back on the flat at Wolverhampton and then found trouble in running when entering the closing stages again at Cheltenham in a Grade Two last time out. There should be more to come from the son of Churchill.
2-05 @ Lingfield – LORD NORTH (4/5)
John and Thady Gosden are ready to unleash one of their stable stars in Lord North here. Bizarrely, the seven-year-old only won one race last season and that came out in Dubai although he was beaten less than a two lengths in two subsequent runs. He has won first time out in the past several times and given that it doesn’t take much to get him fit, he should be primed to go this afternoon. He faces a couple of his stablemates in this, but is essentially rated almost a stone better than them and he faces them off level weights here. He has won on an artificial surface in the past at Newcastle and he will take all the beating if fully wound up.
2-25 @ Kempton – SOLO (5/1)
Paul Nicholls has absolutely farmed this race in recent years and has landed the prize with the likes of Pic D’Orhy, Tamaroc Du Mathan, Cyrname and Frodon to name just a few. He relies on Solo here this afternoon who comes here on the back of three decent efforts at Sandown, Ascot and when he was runner-up to Balco Coastal here last time out. He loves a flat track as proven with those good runs, so no surprise to see him back here where he has won in the past. He comes here on the back of wind surgery and has to have every chance if that operation was successful.
3-00 @ Kempton – FRODON (12/1)
Frodon will make a bold attempt to defy top weight in this race. This is the first handicap that he has contested since winning the Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton back in November. The extra three-pounds that he carried that day wouldn’t have stopped him and he and regular pilot Bryony Frost will likely give it their all from the outset. Despite being beaten eighteen lengths by Bravemansgame here in a Grade One on Boxing Day, that form is head and shoulders above anything else in this race. The former King George winner will appreciate the drying ground and the others will know they have had a race.
3-25 @ Newcastle – BUSHYPARK (8/1)
Bushypark could well be the answer to what is a competitive renewal of the Eider Chase. He was upped to three-and-a-half miles at Catterick last time and answered every question put to him by Thomas Dowson. He hinted he was coming back to his true form at this track two starts ago when finishing runner-up to Theme Tune at a massive price of 50/1. This is another big hike in distance, but no reason to think he will not stay. He is still well handicapped on the best of his old form having won off a mark of 132 in the past. He is off 127 today and he may well have the answers yet again.
3-40 @ Kempton – HANSARD (5/4)
Gary Moore won this race with Sire De Grugy back in 2011 and looks sure to have a strong say in the outcome of this race. Hansard has improved beyond all recognition and has won his last three races in a row. Bought out of Pat Taafes’ yard following on from a win in a bumper at Ballinrobe, the five-year-old gelding has transferred that ability to his hurdles. Wins at Huntingdon and Plumpton soon followed and now he faces the stiffest test of his career. Jamie Moore is on board once again and no surprise to see the pair rack up a hat-trick of wins in quick succession.
All odds are accurate at time of writing.