Friday, February 23, 2024

The 2024 Coral Trophy at Kempton

After the recent 'Last man standing wins' debate in the Racing Post it will be interesting to see how many complete the course in tomorrow's Eider Chase (2.08 Newcastle) which will be run over four miles one and a half furlongs on heavy ground - thoughts go back to Companero beating Giles Cross 30 lengths in the 2011 renewal with Morgan Be the only other finisher of the 12 who set off.

Major Dundee would be of interest in the Eider - provided he brought his A game to the table (third in the 2022 Scottish Grand National; won the 2023 Midlands Grand National). 

Alan King's charge certainly didn't do that in the Classic Chase at Warwick six weeks ago. The gelding ran a full-blown stinker in a first-time visor and was one of the first beaten; he also happened to be my selection for the race.

Writing in the RP Weekender the following week Mr King seemed to imply that maybe The Major wasn't quite as keen as he had once been but the handler appears a tad more upbeat in this week's edition of the same paper:

"He seems in good order at home and he'll retain the visor he wore last time out." 

At the time of writing he's 10/1 with bet365, Coral and Betfred who are all paying four places but I had my fingers burnt last tine so I'm off to Kempton instead where, I have no doubt, my selection in the Coral Trophy will take a leaf out of Major Dundee's book and substantially raise the temperature applied to my digits.

The going at Kempton is described as soft, with the lake bend heavy.

The Dan Skelton trained course and distance winner Flegmatik, favourite through the week, has just been replaced by Blackjack Magic at the head of the market. 

Ideally Flegmatik would want better ground. 

Blackjack Magic, one of three runners for Anthony Honeyball, won the Badger Beer at Wincanton in the autumn, with stablemates Forward Plan sixth and Sam Brown pulled up. The three do battle once again tomorrow; Blackjack Magic sports first-time blinkers as on his two subsequent runs he made significant jumping errors at the business end of the race.

Forward Plan has shown his very best form on good ground while 12-year-old Sam Brown carries top weight and appears to have been revitalised by the application of a visor. On his penultimate start he won the Veterans' Final at Warwick and then finished less than 10 length behind Shishkin in the Denman Chase at Newbury.

Bowtogreatness shaped as though this return to three miles would suit when fifth behind Ginny's Destiny over an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham four weeks ago. 

Il Ridoto races beyond two miles four and a half furlongs for the first time; Lord Baddesley tries further than two miles six and a half furlongs for the first time. 

The booking of Rex Dingle for Lord Baddesley suggests this one is the main hope for the Chris Gordon yard which is in sparkling form - 5 wins from 12 runs in past fortnight - in marked comparison to earlier in the season.  

Having won twice at Kempton the mare Tweed Skirt clearly likes the place but is another who has, to date, shown her best form on better ground.

Veteran Al Dancer has never won beyond two miles five.

Another veteran, Cap Du Nord, won the 2022 renewal of this race off a mark of 127 and popped up at Ascot this time last year off the same mark. 

He hasn't won since and is now officially rated 118 over fences. He's eight pounds wrong at the weights but Tristan Durrell claims three; it wouldn't be wise to completely write off a revival.

Killer Kane was fifth in this race last year (Flegmatik second, Cap Du Nord ninth); he raced from out of the handicap that day yet carries 10-7 tomorrow. Following wind surgery in December, he was beaten by the well-regarded Highstakesplayer and Iconic Muddle over course and distance 15 days ago. 

Unanswered Prayers underwent wind surgery last month having finished behind Tweed Skirt over course and distance the day after Boxing Day. 

Lord Baddesley's stablemate came to grief at the final flight at Ascot in November in a race won by Victtorino and was then hampered by a faller just after the last over the same course and distance three weeks later. 

He has been backed down from 25/1 earlier and is now as low as 17/2 in a place. 

Freddie Gingell was initially booked to ride Unanswered Prayers but the five pound claimer has been re-routed to Chepstow where he rides Monmiral. 

Paul Nicholls' charge reverts to hurdles in a Pertemps qualifier (3.08) after struggling in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham and a novice chase at Musselburgh. The first four home qualify for the Pertemps Final at the Festival and I'm guessing the plan is to get qualified.

 I digress.

This isn't a good race for favourites; I'm going to side with one who has form over the trip on soft ground and course and distance winner Killer Kane fits the bill. 

His main target is the Topham at Aintree in the spring - he finished third in the race last year - but I'm hoping he can show up well here on his second run after wind surgery.

Killer Kane is the each-way suggestion, 12/1 generally at the time of writing with most layers paying four places. 


TW said...


It looks, as you would expect, a competitive affair.

I’ve taken a chance on Sam Brown [EW 20/1 4 plcs last night and he may drift today], a 12yo running of a higher mark that he’s ever won off is not an ideal scenario but given the open feel to the race he looked, like Killer Kane, to tick a lot of other boxes.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for our ratings, TW.

Sam Brown was second choice - the visor has really helped in his last two runs.

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

Veteran Al Dancer (28/1) made a bold bid from the front and looked to have the spoils in the bag at the last but Ben Godfrey and Forward Plan (15/2) had other ideas.

Anthony Honeyball's charge didn't jump particularly well along the way but started to make significant ground from two out and collared the leader on the run-in to win by one and a quarter lengths.

4/1 joint favourite Bowtogreatness claimed third, a nose ahead of Flegmatik (15/2) in fourth; the first four home were separated by two and a half lengths.

Selection Killer Kane (8/1) raced prominently on the outside for much of the trip but weakened at the last to eventually finish eighth, beaten just under 12 lengths.