Nicky Henderson’s Gold Present has been put in the 7/2 market leader at BetVictor for the Batdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton on Saturday and the ground is currently described as good to soft with little or no further rain forecast. Severe frosts are expected to hit Britain next week but Kempton are optimistic Saturday’s card, which also features the Adonis Hurdle, will beat any possible cold snap.
Redicean is BetVictor’s 4/5 market leader for the latter and I am looking forward to seeing Alan King’s juvenile hurdler put his Triumph credentials on the line at the weekend.
The listed £75,000 listed Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon is the highlight and I am loath to desert Kerry Lee’s Happy Diva who has done us a couple of favours in recent weeks. The race should be run to suit Kerry Lee’s charge with plenty of pace in the race, but the race should also be run to suit Antartica De Thaix (4.05) who won this corresponding race 12 months ago although she is 10lbs worse off with runner up Desert Queen for the 9 lengths she won last year’s renewal by.
The selection should reverse recent Leicester form on 7lbs better terms with Got Away and a bigger danger is likely to come from Rene’s Girl who was very impressive in this grade at Doncaster last month although she may need to improve again in this deeper race.
Marmont (2.55) was well on top in the end over today’s C&D at the last meeting and Richard Johnson keeps the mount as he bids to follow up from a 6lbs higher mark. Connections suggested his first-time hood was key to his improved run and the hope is the headgear works the oracle again.
Free Stone Hill has been given a break since the ground went against him and he badly needs the ground to dry out from the official description of soft. He is one to note in the spring, as I am sure he is better than a 117-rated horse.
Must Havea Flutter (4.40) carries a 7lbs penalty for his fluent win at Market Rasen on Sunday but the Dan Skelton-trained runner looked well ahead of the handicapper at the weekend. If in the same mood, he must go close.
Aaron Lad (1.40) is a confident selection to break his career duck at Sedgefield despite having finished second in half of his eight career starts. The form of his 3l second to Blottos over C&D last month was given a boost when the winner scored at Carlisle earlier in the week.
The selection travelled well but pecked on landing at a decisive moment at Catterick last time and can make amends from a 2lbs higher mark.
Instant Replay (3.20) steps up in trip having scored over a couple of furlongs shorter when scoring here last month. A 4lbs rise looks fair and the Brian Ellison-trained runner may have most to fear from Cash Again who was a fluent winner from a 9lbs lower mark here last month when weak in the market.
Delegate (3.55) was considered a good prospect in his younger days when trained by Gordon Elliot and fulfilled some of that potential when winning a novice chase for Keith Dalgleish at Musselburgh last week. He can run in a handicap hurdle this afternoon from an attractive looking mark and can follow up back over timber.
At Thurles Mallowney (1.55) ran better than his finishing position would suggest in a valuable handicap last time and he gets a narrow vote with Davy Russell – who has been in the saddle for four of the selection’s careers successes – back in the plate.
A terrific flat card in Meydan and fascinating to see Blue Point run over the minimum trip for the first time for Godolphin against the brilliant Ertijaal – a race to savour.
Eynhollow (6.00) has been given three weeks to get over his first start at the Carnival when he pulled hard, met trouble in running but finished strongly before going on to do his own lap of honour. If he is more amenable to restraint this evening, he will take plenty of beating from the same mark.