The Grade 2 Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Saturday, named in honour of the great Fred Winter-trained chaser Pendil, promises to be a cracker with the market headed by Colin Tizzard’s Reserve Tank – 5/2 at BetVictor – who has not seen the track since finishing second in a three-runner event at Newbury at the end of November. The six-year-old was a dual Grade 1 winning novice hurdler on decent ground last spring, but he must concede 5lbs all round at the weekend and underfoot conditions are unlikely to suit.
There is a sensational flat card out in Meydan this afternoon where Ghaiyyath (2.30) has his first start since disappointing on ground softer than ideal in the Arc behind Waldgeist back in October. Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old has a history of going well fresh and the trainer has saddled the winner of this corresponding race, named in honour of the great Dubai Millennium, for the past two seasons. Last year’s winner Spotify is in the field again this afternoon and is taken to give the selection most to think about.
I hope it is a good night for Appleby as his Zakouski (4.15) is taken to follow up last month’s handicap success in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile despite taking a big step up in class. The selection has only had three career starts winning twice but disappointing in the Craven at Newmarket back in the spring. The 4-year-old was gelded prior to his fluent win over today’s C&D, but will need to improve again to beat Group 1 winner Dream Castle who is 1lb higher than the Appleby runner on official figures and looked to be coming to the boil when chasing home the top-class Barney Roy last time.
The evergreen Caspian Prince should ensure there is a strong gallop in the Group 2 5f sprint, and I hope to see Equilateral (4.50) back up last month’s listed success over C&D for Charlie Hills. The five-year-old has never been the most consistent of animals but has won two of his last three and looked a reformed character since being gelded when a facile scorer from Waady – who reopposes today – last time.
In the finale the return to turf will, hopefully, assist Dubai Legacy (6.00) who was reported to have finished lame when disappointing on his first start on dirt – well backed favourite – here last month. The four-year-old had previously run a race full of promise from a poor draw over 7f earlier in the Carnival and the return to a mile from a good draw in stall three looks ideal.
There is a cracking card at Thurles and in the feature Grade 3 novice hurdle I hope to see Front View (3.25) improve for the step up in trip for Joseph O’Brien. The selection was no match for the unbeaten Envoi Allen at Down Royal back in November but soon went one better scoring at Cork later in the month over the minimum trip. His subsequent absence from the track is a slight cause for concern, but the second has subsequently franked the form and the Joseph O’Brien stable remain in good form.
Jessica Harrington had a double at Punchestown on Tuesday and winning pointer Gold Des Bois (3.55) can make it third time lucky in the 2m 5f maiden hurdle. The stable have had a quiet first half of the season but are in better form now and they look to have found a weak race for this lightly raced 6-y-old.