Kempton describe their ground as good to soft (good in places) ahead of their seven-race card this afternoon and I hope to see bottom-weight Theatre Territory (3.35) belie her odds of 14/1 in the Betdaq Handicap Chase at BetVictor in first-time cheek-pieces for trainer Warren Greatrex and jockey-cum-dentist Sam Waley-Cohen.
The each way selection has only one career win to her name under rules and remains a maiden over fences, but she has run a number of good races in defeat over the larger obstacles and looks ready for a step up to three miles for the first time.
There are any number of dangers in a competitive 15-runner handicap with Acting Lass 7/2 favourite at BetVictor although a bigger danger might come from Tintern Theatre who is 8/1 with BetVictor.
The Unit (1.50) is engaged at Fontwell on Sunday and at the time of writing, it is unclear if the Alan King runner is likely to line up in the Grade 2 Pendil Chase. If he gets the green light, I think the seven-year-old has his ideal conditions and can make the most of the 5lbs he receives from lBetVictor’s 4/7 favourite Cyrname who finished runner up in the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown last time. The selection is 11/4 at BetVictor and I expect him to give the favourite plenty to think about.
The ground is much softer (heavy) at Newcastle for one of their feature jumps meetings of the season including the Eider Chase over an extended four miles. The form of Vinnie Lewis’s Sussex National success was given a boost when the runner up Shanroe Santos won by thirteen lengths at Carlisle earlier in the week.
The 7-year-old has been raised another 9lbs for that Plumpton success, however, and this represents a step up in grade and he is overlooked in favour of West Of The Edge (2.45) who runs from the same mark as when runner up over three-and-a-half miles at Haydock last time on similar ground. At 6/1 with BetVictor the Dr Richard Newland-trained runner gets the each way vote.
I am a big admirer of Lady Buttons (2.10) and hope she can defy her 8lb penalty in the Novice Chase over the minimum trip. The mare impressed when scoring over fences at Bangor back in November, and has since run well in defeat back over timber in Ireland. Kelka was a beaten odds-on favourite at Catterick on her chase debut but jumped well before lack of race-fitness took its toll. She receives 8lbs from the selection and is entitled to come on for her belated reappearance, but I prefer the older mare.
The John Quinn stable have been quiet and that tempers confidence behind Raised On Grazeon (3.20) who was beaten less than a length in a handicap last time and her 7lb penalty for a previous Catterick win is largely negated by Ross Chapman’s 5lbs claim.
Richard Johnson takes the ride on Acdc (4.30) in the 2m 4f handicap chase and the selection looks to have an excellent chance at the weights although the drop back in trip from last month’s Kelso success (2m 6f) is a slight concern.
The Mark Bradstock yard had a winner at Exeter yesterday and Flintham (2.30) can make the most of the 6lbs he receives from Rolling Dylan in the 3m Novice Chase at Chepstow. The selection often attracts market support and do note the nine-year-old has had a wind operation since disappointing at Warwick last time.
It is Winter Derby Day at Lingfield and Aidan O’Brien saddles Clear Skies (3.15) with Ryan Moore taking over in the saddle from the plum draw in stall one. This five-year-old mare has won five of her last six starts on Dundalk’s polytrack surface so she should be at home on today’s surface in this Group 3 contest. The mare is 5/2 at BetVictor and I think she can give O’Brien a first winner of the race.