Friday, February 29, 2008

Kempton and Doncaster

Two Nicky Henderson charges that have the winning look at Kempton tomorrow are Working Title in the opener and Classic Fiddle in the 4.00. Both are likely to start at a short price - I'm tempted to oppose Classic Fiddle with Strawberry who, on official handicap ratings, should be competitive at the weights. Charlie Mann's Stellenbosch looks the answer to the 3.25. A decent display by Strawberry would point to Helen Wood's chance in the trappy Betfred Novices' Handicap Chase at 4.35. HW, receiving six pounds, beat Strawberry six lengths in a mares' novice chase at Exeter last December - better was expected last time out when she was upped in grade at Doncaster but she failed to sparkle. The booked amateur takes off a handy-looking seven pounds here.

Grand National clues aplenty will be on offer at Doncaster where the weather forecast doesn't look that good. The going will be critical here as several runners would prefer some cut. McKelvey returns to action in the 2.25 following his fine second in last year's National - he suffered a serious injury in the race. The Bowen stable are still not firing; this is the first of two planned warm-ups as connections target the big race once again.

Mr Pointment and Cloudy Lane are using the 3.30 as their preparatory race. I was never convinced Mr Pointment stayed but Paul Nicholls proved me wrong by sending the horse out to win the Becher Chase in impressive style last November. This horse is better with cut but I suspect you'd say the same applies to Cloudy Lane. Ungaro fell at the second last weekend and looks on a retrieval mission while Alderburn wouldn't be suited by wet conditions. At the prices on offer I'm siding with Cloudy Lane.

Finally, if the rain really came, Just A Thought would be worth a second look, down in trip and class, in the 4.05.


Anonymous said...

Me too, last week's fall does not indicate Ungaro is ready to take this one. But Reveley's entry in the earlier hurdle looks good and gets my backing.

GeeDee said...

Working Title (8/13f) took the opener but had to work hard to get there and it loooked anything but convincing. Strawberry ran well, led to three out but had no answer to 8/1 shot Templer, finishing three lengths adrift at the line; 11/10 favourite Classic Fiddle was never going and was pulled up three out. Stellenbosch (4/6f) got to the front approaching the last but fluffed his lines with a poor jump; that effectively saw him beaten as he was a neck down to Rodrigo Gonzales (4/1) on the line. Helen Wood (7/1) was friendless in the market and the market certainly called it right here as the mare lost her position early on and finished a distance fourth of the five runners.
Over at Doncaster McKelvey came in eighth of eleven in a Class 2 three mile hurdle. Provided he comes out of the race in good health, I'd imagine connections will be pleased with that - the horse is quoted as a 20/1 chance for Aintree. Cloudy Lane (100/30) won impressively and is now as low as 8/1 for the Liverpool marathon; Mr Pointment was beaten some way out with a performance I'd come to associate with this animal before he went to Paul Nicholls' yard. I'll be interested to see how connections view this run as Mr P will meet CL on worse terms if they meet in the National. I didn't see the 4.05 but the formbook reports that Just A Thought was held up by Ruby Walsh and was 'never nearer' in finishing sixth on 7/2 favourite Just A Thought. The going may have been a little quicker than this horse would have preferred, but the question remains as to whether he'd have won if he'd have raced more prominently. In my book this horse has shown his best when racing up with the pace (over two miles on soft ground).