Sixteen will go to post for the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday with Nicky Henderson’s Diese Des Bieffes heading the market at 11/2 with BetVictor from Alan King’s River Frost at 6/1. The promising conditional Mitchell Bastyan takes a valuable 5lbs off the back of the market leader and it looks a top-class renewal of this valuable and prestigious handicap hurdle.
The ground is described as soft ahead of today’s Huntingdon card where the feature race is the valuable juvenile hurdle. The French import Style De Garde (3.00) is 25/1 at BetVictor for the Triumph Hurdle after a very impressive British debut when running away with a decent Newbury event last month and he is taken to follow up for the Nicky Henderson yard who saddled the winner 12 months ago with Divin Bere.
The selection wears a hood and was a bit keen at the Berkshire track, but he looked potentially very smart. Gumball looks the main danger although he has to put behind a disappointing run at Cheltenham back in November. The Philip Hobbs team have struck form in recent days and this grey was obviously not at his best last time. He had looked very good in his two starts previously and it should be noted that he is a shorter price (20/1) with BetVictor for the Triumph than the favourite. This should be a most informative contest and preference for Style De Garde is marginal.
Henderson also saddles another French import Terrefort (3.30) in the novices’ limited handicap chase and this grey won twice in his native France including over fences back in August. The selection may not have got home in a valuable chase when third at Auteuil (2m 6f) in October on his last start and this near two-and-a-half-miles trip looks ideal.
In the Novices’ Handicap Chase at Sedgefield there is very little chase form to go on but Instant Replay (2.10) finished runner up in an Irish point and ran his best race yet in Britain when fourth here on Boxing Day in his first handicap hurdle. He is 2lbs lower switched to fences this afternoon and connections have found a moderate contest for his first start over the larger obstacles.
The mare Canny Style was outstayed at Carlisle on debut but went one better at Musselburgh last time and the handicapper may have let her in lightly from an opening mark of 108. The mare is entitled to improve after just the two starts over timber but I just favour Black Art (2.40) another making his handicap debut for Sue Smith.
The selection finished runner up over today’s C&D on Boxing Day, beaten less than two lengths, with the third thirteen lengths. The winner The Dubai Way was maintaining his unbeaten record under rules (one bumper two hurdles) and Black Art could also be well-treated on his handicap debut.
The staying handicap chase sees Hedgeinator look to follow up last week’s Ludlow win from just a 2lbs higher mark for Christian Williams and Welsh National winning jockey James Bowen. He must go close but the form of Kings Eclipse’s (3.10) course & distance success last month was franked when the runner up Dick Darsie scored at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
The selection is 8lbs higher today, but looked well ahead of the handicapper last time – raced wide throughout – and has been given a five-week break to get over his exertions.
Windsor Avenue cost connections £65,000 after winning a point in his native Ireland and it will be interesting to see what the market makes of his Rules debut in the Bumper. Colby (3.40) belied his odds of 28/1 when finishing third at Musselburgh on his racecourse debut, and can take the finale for Chris Grant. This well-bred sort will get further e when switched to obstacles but he is entitled to come on for his first start.