Clearly the biggest talking point of this week is the injury to Colin Tizzard’s star and the Gold Cup favourite, Thistlecrack. A sad omission from any race but the big one especially. A shame not to see him take on the fellow Tizzard horses Native River and Cue Card but we wish him a speedy return.
The big races and big names are coming thick and fast as we edge closer to the first day of the festival. There’s rather a lot to get through this weekend so let’s jump straight into it.
We’ll start at Kempton with the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at 13.50 which looks set to be taken by CHARLI PARCS. Winning ever so easily last time out for Nicky Henderson, he looks to outclass the rest of the opposition with only Evening Hush and Master Blueyes anywhere near him in the betting ring. It was the latter that was on the receiving end of that easy beating.
Next up at Kempton is a small novices chase at 14.25. With only four declared, it should be FRODON versus Charmix with the former favoured to take the win. Charmix’s wins have come against weak opposition and the 4/7 price on Frodon is correct.
The Betbright handicap chase is the main event at Kempton at 15.35 which sees rather a large handful of neat horses entered at some eye-catching prices. Double Shuffle and IRISH SAINT will contest favouritism and could offer the winner. Irish Saint runs a few pounds lighter and if in contention toward the end of the race, could take the race away from the field. Aso steps up half a mile for this race and could just mean business under Charlie Deutsch but runs off a career high mark and it may be too much to ask.
Opening Batsman will arrive well prepared by Harry Fry. Annacotty can almost be counted out carrying top weight but Theatre Guide may be one to watch. Colin Tizzard will be hurting having seen Thistlecrack pull out of Cheltenham and will be keen to carry on his best season to date.
Four miles is a long way for any horse but I think we need to be looking towards the top end of the weights for the winner of the 14.45 Eider Handicap Chase. It’s a big field that will undoubtedly thin as the race concludes so a regular long distance finisher Streets of Promise ticks one box. Out Sam will struggle if the ground remains heavy but we may see SHOTGUN PADDY handle the conditions perfectly, especially arriving in good form. Mountainous is also an intriguing entry. The twice Welsh Grand National winner cannot be discounted.
The 16.30 Betfred ‘The Home of Goals Galore’ Handicap Chase raises an eyebrow with BALLYBOLEY seemingly outclassing every other contender on paper but is heavy in the weights so it may be worth siding elsewhere. Eastview Boy takes next best in what is a weak field in truth.
Sunday’s 14.00 Josh Gifford Memorial Novices’ Chase sees the return of AS DE MEE. 5th in the JLT last year, if he gets far enough ahead of Kilcrea Vale then the Henderson horse will fail to chase him down in the latter stages.
At 15.00, the totepool National Spirit Hurdle throws open the door to several horses. Camping Ground is the obvious choice having mixed it well in grade 1 company and Adrien Du Pont offers promise but finishes weakly. Lil Rockerfeller won this last year and his reputation of doing what is needed could see him back in the frame. Le Rocher could be the one to follow if the rain comes but this is the perfect opportunity for L’AMI SERGE to get back to winning ways under Daryl Jacob.