We have a real mixed bag for you this Saturday on ITV. Flat racing on the all weather at Lingfield, the Eider Chase at Newcastle and quality action from Kempton which in the past has provided some Cheltenham clues.
We kick off at Kempton with the Grade 2 Pendil Novices Chase over 2m 4f at 1.50pm. It’s just the four runners and there’s not much between Bags Groove and Secret Investor on their run at Wincanton in November. However, it looks like Paul Nicholls’ Secret Investor is improving and ran a belter against OK Corral – who is a leading fancy for the amateur’s race at the Festival next month- last time at Warwick.
When you consider the Nicholls’ juggernaut is gathering pace with Cheltenham approaching, that just swings me in his favour.
There does not appear to be a star in the 2m Adonis Hurdle at 2.25pm on what we have seen so far. However the French horses we don’t know that much about are interesting. Nicky Henderson runs Fusil Raffles. He was super impressive when winning in his first race at Sennones-Pouance but was beaten on his second start. Dr Richard Newland’s Rose Sea Has was nabbed on the line at Pau in a 2m 1f Chase on heavy ground and could be anything.
Of what we know though, the value play could be recent Ludlow winner Petit Palais trained by Tom George. This horse won nicely at the end of last month and seems to enjoy hurdling, having come off the Flat from the John Gosden stable.
Angels Breath is short in the market for the Grade 2 Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton 3pm but is very highly-regarded by the Henderson team, so much so that he was introduced in a graded hurdle at Ascot. He only had to jump four hurdles that day though and he has no form on quicker ground.
If he is to justify his place in the Supreme Novices Hurdle, he has to be winning this.
I really like Scarlet Dragon against him though. He was a very good Flat horse, will love the ground conditions and was second in this race last year. If he gets to an each-way price, which may be tricky, he won’t be out of the money. He’ll expose any flaws in Angels Breath.
We were all over Rather Be for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham last December and he should be up to running well in the 3m Chase at 3,35pm.
However, I’m not sure whether he will stay this three-mile trip, so top-weight Double Shuffle could be the alternative at a price. He was only beaten a length by Might Bite in the 2017 King George VI Chase (distant fifth last year to Clan Des Obeaux) and loves it around this track.
He should enjoy the drop down in class and Tom George’s stable have started to hit some form.
The Eider Chase at Newcastle (2.40pm) is normally run in really testing conditions but that is not the case this time. I had a scout through the jockey bookings and saw that Daklondike is Tom Scudamore’s only ride of the day. He will be hoping the long journey north is worth it! The 4m trip will help this quirky character get into a rhythm.
We’ve a couple of Flat races at Lingfield on the roster and I really like Gracious John in the 5f sprint at 2.05pm.
He was a beaten favourite on his reappearance at Chelmsford, but that run should have put him spot on for a repeat bid to win this contest in consecutive years, after beating the re-opposing Encore D’Or by a short-head last season.
Frankie Dettori teams up with John Gosden’s Wissahickon in the Group 3 Winter Derby at 3.15pm and is odds-on to continue his four-race winning streak.