Friday, January 14, 2011

Kempton and Warwick

There are nine races to lose your money on at Kempton tomorrow, the highlight being Kauto Star's attempt to become the first horse to win the King George VI Chase five times. Layers think this one is a foregone conclusion; the ease in the ground is unlikely to suit a number of Kauto's opponents including Planet Of Sound, RiversideTheatre (in which actor James Nesbitt owns a share), Albertas Run and Nacarat. Early in the week the value disappeared about The Nightingale (now 9/1 in places) - the gelding tries three miles for the first time here. Long Run is very talented and would be of some interest but for me his jumping is still a problem; when he won the Feltham over course and distance just over twelve months ago he hit a few on the way round and still has a tendency to throw in the odd poor leap. A stat which could be something or nothing - in the last fortnight Paul Nicholls has had 4 winners from 36 runners (11.11%) while Nicky Henderson has had 14 winners from 38 (36.84%). Over the years Nicholls has tended to inoculate his charges against equine flu at this time of year - traditionally this is a quiet time for the stable. The King George looks a race to savour rather than bet on - I hope to see Kauto Star collect the spoils and enter the history books in the process.

Only six go in the Christmas Hurdle but it looks intruguing. I always think Kempton is Starluck's course after his easy win in the juvenile hurdle two years ago and he could be considered slightly unfortunate to go down by a short-head to Go Native in this last year; the grey may just appreciate slightly better ground. On a line through Peddlers Cross (beat Starluck and Binocular the last time at Newbury) Donald McCain should have a decent enough idea of Overturn's chances - this one can make the running but I've never considered Kempton a course for front runners. At the prices available I'm going to bet the Champion Hurdle runner-up Khyber Kim (3/1) as a play against likely favourite and current Champion Hurdler Binocular.

The Lanzarote looks difficult - Palomar was of interest and Brian Ellison is in very good form (6 wins from 23 runs in past fortnight) but the gelding doesn't looks certain to stay the trip - priced at around 9/1 I've decided not to play. Having just written that though, Coral's 18/1 about Songe looks far more tempting...

The big race at Warwick, where an 8.00am inspection is planned, is the Classic Chase at 3.20 in which sixteen are set to face the starter. Conditions will suit market leader Le Beau Bai from Richard Lee's yard - the trainer bagged a nice double at Hereford on Thursday - while Aidan Coleman has talked up Officier De Reserve (10/1 totesport) a couple of times this season. Provided the meeting gets the green light I'll take a small each-way interest in the other one from Lee's yard, Incentivise - VC offer 12/1 this evening.

It has to be said Warwick's chances don't look particularly good with the track reported unraceable earlier today. However if they do go, another I'll consider at a big price is Tom Wade in the opener. The heavy going is a complete unknown but this one ran well for a long way at 100/1 behind Sam Winner the last time.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

The writing was on the wall a fair out for Kauto Star in the King George. McCoy had the 4/7 favourite plenty forward enough in the early stages and the horse looked plenty free enough - the game was up before the home turn on the final circuit. Long Run's well-documented jumping problems were never a factor here and the young pretender won in a canter. Today several commentators are of the opinion age has finally caught up with Kauto but it has since been reported Nicholls' inmate broke a blood vessel during the race...

Khyber Kim (5/2) was very disappointing in the Christmas Hurdle - of the market leaders he was the first beaten. Binocular's hurdling was a feature here - the 13/8 favourite looked exceptional.

The ground at Warwick appeared just this side of desperate in parts, particularly racing down the hill away from the stands. A fine finish to the gruelling Classic Chase saw West End Rocker (10/1) hold 4/1 favourite Minella Boys by threequarters of a length - this was still a fantastic effort by the second who won the Sussex National under a fortnight ago. Selection Incentivise (9/1) was out the back early on but kept on creeping away to run into third spot without ever troubling the leaders; stablemate Le Beau Bai (11/2) claimed fourth.

No fancy prices about Tom Wade in the opener (opened 8/1, sent off 6/1). Held up, the gelding made limited headway but then weakened three out to finish beaten out of sight in fourth. I'd be prepared to give him another chance on better ground provided, of course, the odds were big enough.