Another competitive day of action on Saturday with Kempton & Warwick taking centre-stage. Our man Danny Archer has previewed all the action.
Charbel to rule at Kempton
A small but select field of five go to post for the Listed 32Red Casino Chase (2.05pm) at Kempton, but the Kim Bailey-trained Charbel is taking to maintain his excellent start to the season. The ultra-consistent eight-year-old som of Iffraaj was a facile winner of the Peterborough Chase on his latest start, jumping with aplomb to register an eight-length success. Up to a career high rating of 162, he is taken to maintain his current form in the two and a half mile contest by seeing off Top Notch.
Nicky Henderson's inmate returned to action with a fine third in the Long Walk Hurdle on his latest start. He reverts back to chasing for this assignment and signed off last season with an easy win in the Oaksey Chase at Sandown Park. He is a worthy adversary to Charbel & it will be interesting tides how he gets on back over fences. However, it is hard not to be impressed with Charbel so far this term and I fancy him to reign supreme at Kempton.
Elsewhere at Kempton, the Listed Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40pm) is one of the biggest betting aces of the season & the Gary Moore-trained Kloud Gate has been very well backed in recent days to complete a hat-trick this season after two comfortable successes in handicap company of late. Erick Le Rouge & Cotswold Bay have both won their last three starts & are others worth mentioning.
Back to take a Step back in the right direction at Warwick
One of Warwick's biggest racedays of the year takes place on Saturday with the Classic Handicap Chase (3.00pm) taking centre-stage. 13 runners go to post for the G3 event over an extended three miles and five furlongs & I like the chances of Step Back. Trained by Gold Cup winning handler Mark Bradstock, the gelding was an emphatic 13-length winner of the bet365 Chase at Sandown Park in April & needed his comeback run when seventh at Chepstow in October. Connections have taken their time with him since & the nine-year-old son of Indian River will appreciate this stamina zapping test. He also has winning form on good to soft ground which will help in today's race.
Duel At Dawn is another interesting contender in the race for Alex Hales. A well-beaten seventh in the Tommy Whittle on his latest start, he was pulled-up in the four miler at The Festival, but in many ways remains unexposed at this trip as he has given the indication in his races that a trip of this nature is within his range.
A good card at Warwick also sees the exciting Rocky's Treasure take on three rivals in a Listed event over three miles (1.50pm). Second to Santini at Newbury in December, the Kim Bailey-trained eight-year-old son of Westerner produced a dominant performance to plunder a G2 event at Doncaster later that month. He takes on Nicky Henderson's OK Corral who could be bound for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival given the jockey booking of Derek O'Connor in tomorrow's race & he made a pleasing return to action when winning at Plumpton on his chase debut.
The G2 Leamington Novices' Hurdle is another good event with unbeaten hurdler Birchdale taking on six rivals for Nicky Henderson & Barry Geraghty. A smooth winner over course and distance for the Seven Barrows maestro, he is one of a string of exciting novice hurdlers at Henderson's disposal. Rathhill disappointed for the yard when well beaten in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park last week & the same connections will be hoping for better luck at Warwick. The opposition includes Tidal Flow who made it two from two this season with a game success at Newbury last time & Stoney Mountain who recorded a convincing victory at Southwell on his latest start.
A great day of action, but let's hope Charbel is the King at Kempton.