Preview of the races shown live on Channel 4 and Free Racing Tips – It’s another triple header on Channel 4 this Saturday with jump racing at Newcastle and Kempton taking centre stage, ably supported by a pair of competitive races on the all weather at Lingfield.
The BetBright chase is the feature race, one that has seen a list of great winners down the years including a massive weight carrying performance by Desert Orchid as well as Grand National winners Rhyme N Reason and Rough Quest. BURY PARADE (11/2 BetVictor) looks a good place to start after a very impressive win at Ascot last time in the first time hood. He refused to race the time before which tempers confidence a little but he travelled so strongly at Ascot that if the headgear works again its hard to see a 9lb rise in the weights being enough to stop him. Ardkilly Witness (7/1 Stan James) has improved of late when given really testing ground, following up a Wincanton victory with a solid runners up effort at Sandown. He was still in front jumping the last that day and just got outstayed up the hill. This easier track should be in his favour and a small rise in the weights should still be within his grasp. Baile Anrai (14/1 Coral) may be ten but he is in the form of his life, running a game race when runner up in a similarly competitive handicap at Doncaster last time. He takes another climb up the weights here but with lots in his favour is worth considering. Bless The Wings (14/1 bet365) is very interesting at a big price, now 2lb below his latest winning mark. He is looking well handicapped and with the yard in better form now than when we last saw him before Christmas he looks a lively contender. The yard are also represented by Midnight Appeal (16/1 Stan James) who has stable jockey Robert Thornton on board. He has shown a solid level of form this season on heavy ground including when runner-up over C&D last time off this same mark, this is a tougher race but he may be a shade overpriced.
SOLAR IMPULSE (9/1 Betfred) gets the vote in the Adonis Hurdle. The fact he was sent off favourite for a Grade 1 on his UK debut is indicative of the regard in which he is held and I am always willing to disregard a poor run at Chepstow due to the unique nature of the track. The first time tongue tie and the jockey who won on him in France being brought over to ride are both really intriguing additions. The stable's number one jockey, Daryl Jacob is on Alcala (7/2 Coral) who makes his UK debut here. He had to work very hard to win his bumper in France before improving on his hurdling debut. It's hard to know exactly what to expect but he is interesting pitched into a good race first time. The same can be said for Agreement (9/1 bet365) who is a very interesting newcomer for the Rebecca Curtis yard. The winner of a Galway maiden when trained by Aiden O'Brien he showed his ability to handle heavy ground that day. He didn't beat much but was very impressive doing it and is worth watching in the market to see how he may have schooled at home. Commissioned (5/1 Betfred) was a good sort on the flat, winning a Musselburgh handicap off 94. He was disappointing on his hurdling debut in a decent field at Cheltenham and is entitled to come on for that but very soft ground is an unknown. Activial (2/1 William Hill) showed plenty of promise on his hurdling debut at Newbury, the winner has won again since and he is open to plenty of further improvement.
The Pendil Novices' Chase at 2.40 is headed by the smart Balder Success (11/8 Stan James). His most recent wins have been over the minimum trip including at Warwick last time on ground that was probably softer than ideal. He set a track record on his first start of the season at Chepstow over this distance so this shouldn't hold any fears in that regard for him. FOX APPEAL (13/8 bet365) found the step down in distance against him at Doncaster last time but had previously shown very smart form beating Raya Star at Ascot as well as being narrowly beaten by the very smart pair of Black Thunder and Wonderful Charm in his two previous chase outings. He has a marginal form edge over Balder Success on those efforts and proven on both the ground and over the distance so gets the vote here. Loose Chips (9/1 William Hill) has his own ideas about the game but has been on his best behaviour on his most recent starts. He made every post a winning one over C&D at Christmas before following up at Huntingdon in a small field. He has a bit to find on both those runs but would be dangerous if allowed a soft lead. God's Own (14/1 BetVictor) has threatened on more than one occasion to be better than average but has never really come through on that promise. He has run well enough on both chase starts so far and in receipt of half a stone from the big pair can go well having won on his only previous start at Kempton.
While the Adonis is a trial for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Dovecote Hurdle is for those older novices looking at the Supreme. Irving (11/10 Betfred) has been impressive over hurdles so far, unbeaten in three starts. He has struck up a really good relationship with Nick Schofield and it's great to see connections keep the pair intact. He is likely to get most resistance from CUP FINAL (9/1 Stan James) who was behind the Paul Nicholls' charge on their hurdling debuts at Taunton. Cup Final was sent off the 10/11 favourite on that occasion but cut himself during the contest and ended up beaten four lengths. He is 7lb better off here and is likely to get much closer on this occasion and at the prices he is worth taking a chance on. First Mohican (10/3 William Hill) used his flat speed to good effect when making a solid enough winning hurdling debut last time. That effort was a long way below what he achieved on the flat suggesting that there should be plenty of improvement to come over hurdles. Amore Alato (10/1 BetVictor) ran well in a handicap at Cheltenham last time having won a pair of novice events at Wincanton and then here at Kempton. This demands more if he is to mix it with the likes of Irving but he's tough, genuine and deserves his chance here.
A very competitive 0-145 hurdle over two miles at 2.20 is the first of the two Newcastle races. Yorkist (15/2 BetVictor) has been busy running riot in weak handicaps on bottomless ground but his rapid improvement ended in a similar Class 2 handicap to this at Musselburgh last time. Dropped a couple of pounds for that effort he is still of interest in the betting for a ultra shrewd yard. Ubaltique (11/2 Coral) is another who has been in excellent winning form of late, albeit over further. The blinkers have worked wonders on him but another eight pounds means he has top weight here in a competitive race and that may stretch him. Kudu Country (6/1 BetVictor) has slipped down to a good mark and showed a bit more of the old sparkle on his seasonal return at Kempton and could run into a place at a good price but the tip goes to FIGARO (3/1 William Hill). Tim Vaughan's six year old got his head in front in a Musselburgh handicap last time on his fifth start over obstacles. Formally smart on the flat he has taken his time to find his feet over hurdles and although he would probably appreciate better ground he is open to more improvement than most of these. He is capable of finding that extra if held onto for a little longer in his races and this mark still looks very fair on his line of form with Grade 1 winner Captain Cutter in December.
The Eider chase takes pride of place at Newcastle and this traditional staying chase will be a major test of stamina on the heavy going. Sun Cloud (8/1 Stan James) won a staying handicap at Catterick last time showing his best form to date. This seven year-old acts well on heavy ground and has improved everytime he has been given a stiffer test of stamina so it's not hard to imagine that he can come on still further given this test. Financial Climate (14/1 BetVictor) is unproven over this far but has struck up a good relationship with Thomas Garner and looked as if he might be capable of better with a further step up in trip when winning the Manderin Chase at Newbury. Our Island (10/1 Coral) is a dour stayer who should be well suited to the demands of this contest. He has a bit to prove on his efforts so far this season but he looks handicapped to run a big race. Royale Knight (11/1 Betfred) won the Borders National at Kelso before running a big race at Warwick when doing best of those held up. He was in front of Saffron De Cotte (12/1 Stan James) that day who is another who looks in need of this major test of stamina. SMOKING ACES (8/1 Stan James) does nothing quickly but this is the type of contest to suit him. He has been plugging on over half a mile shorter in recent outings at Plumpton and Ffos Las and this might be right up his street. He has a light weight here which will be advantageous in the conditions made even less with the 5lb Maurice Linehan claims and although he is a hard ride he looks a lively contender.
The first race of the Channel 4 coverage comes in the form of a Listed sprint at Lingfield where HOOF IT (7/1 Coral) gets a tentative vote to end a losing run stretching back to July 2011. He comes out best on the weights of the five who ran in the same December handicap won by Tarooq (5/1 Betfred). He was a little below his best for most of last year despite the fact he was still performing at a high standard and this is easier. Ladies Are Forever (6/1 bet365) won this on her seasonal reappearance last year and boasts the strongest recent form lines with efforts in Group 1's. She would have been the pick if not for her wide draw and the penalty she carries. She is the highest on official ratings in the field and does command plenty of respect. Forest Edge (11/1 BetVictor) is horribly inconsistent, he could just as easily win this as lose the race at the start as he has done on a few previous runs. The ability is there and on a going day would be dangerous as would Hawkeyethenoo (7/1 William Hill) who remains admirably consistent but unable to get his head in front.
The other Lingfield race is a Winter Derby trial at 3.30 where despite the penalty and the all weather debut, GRANDEUR (13/8 William Hill) stands head and shoulders above his rivals. A group race regular he returns from a solid Far East effort with half a stone in hand on his nearest challenger at the adjusted weights. Chookie Royale (9/1 Stan James) is that challenger having taken apart a conditions race at Wolverhampton last time. That was a much improved display but his new 107 rating looks vastly inflated considering he was being beaten off marks in the low 90's in Class 3 handicaps as recently as November. As a consequence Hajras (14/1 bet365) and Robin Hoods Bay (5/1 Betfred) look more likely to be the ones to challenge the favourite. The former was not at his best in a couple of starts last back end on his return from a year's absence but considering the connections it's unlikely they would be persevering if they didn't believe the ability remained. The latter won a C&D handicap last time off a mark of 100 and if he were to run to his slightly higher turf rating here he would be of interest. Finally, Modernstone (9/1 BetVictor) is improving rapidly and gets the weight allowances here. The trip may not suit her quite as well as an extra quarter mile does but she is open to more improvement than the rest of these and warrants respect.
1.45 Lingfield – HOOF IT (7/1 Coral)
2.05 Kempton – SOLAR IMPULSE (9/1 Betfred)
2.20 Newcastle – FIGARO (3/1 William Hill)
2.40 Kempton – FOX APPEAL (13/8 bet365)
2.55 Newcastle – SMOKING ACES (8/1 Stan James)
3.15 Kempton – CUP FINAL (9/1 Stan James)
3.30 Lingfield – GRANDEUR (13/8 William Hill)
3.50 Kempton – BURY PARADE (11/2 BetVictor)
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