Despite being less than three weeks away from the start of the Cheltenham Festival, Close Brothers Handicap Chase Day at Kempton has a reputation for providing future Cheltenham winners. Punters will pay close attention to each of the four live ITV Racing contests from Kempton while also enjoying a couple of quality all-weather races at Lingfield and the gruelling Eider Chase at Newcastle.
As ever, we have picked through all of the day’s live racing to bring you our best Saturday Racing Tips below.
1:50 Close Brothers Pendil Novices’ Chase
Grade 2, 2m4½f
The Pendil Novices’ Chase is usually right up there with the most informative races of the weekend when it comes to sniffing out potential Cheltenham winners. Often, that is because of the presence of a top-class horse among a small field with Cyrname and Frodon winning this at odds-on prices in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
We have another small field and a warm favourite for this year’s renewal in the shape of Tamaroc Du Mathan who is being supported at 6/5 to follow up his decent showing when finishing behind Shishkin at Kempton last time out. That made it two starts at Kempton without a win and that run may be extended to three as Ga Law is ready to strike stepped back up in trip. Jamie Snowden’s five year old emerged with credit for the way he tried to take Allmankind on at Sandown last time out. Sharpened up for that experience, Ga Law looks better value than the favourite at odds of 15/8.
2:05 Betway Hever Sprint Stakes
It might seem a bit strange to be looking at high-class Flat racing form as most of the talk in horse racing is about the upcoming Cheltenham Festival at the moment. But it could pay to take a close look at Moss Gill’s form ahead of his run in the Hever Sprint Stakes at Lingfield.
The Bethells’ stable star has a particularly strong record at York. He followed up victory in a Listed race over five furlongs there with a very impressive third-place finish in the Nunthorpe Stakes last year and is the class option in the Hever. He can be forgiven for a couple of runs below his best to end his season on the Flat but should be raring to go as he makes his racecourse reappearance and this lightly raced five year old can continue improving to land this prestigious all-weather contest at a price of 6/5.
2:25 Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m
The wet weather has caused havoc with racing all around the country but the picture has improved considerably in a short period as spring moves into view. The ground at Kempton will certainly feel spring-like on Saturday which could be to the benefit of the bookies’ favourite for the Adonis Hurdle, Tritonic.
While some will be put off backing Alan King’s charge after he made slightly heavy work of his win at Ascot last time out, connections are much more confident about his abilities on better ground. His owner, Max McNeill, sounded positive about Tritonic’s chances recently and is excited to have a potentially high-class performer on the Flat and over hurdles. Six winners of this race have followed up with victory in the Triumph Hurdle and Tritonic should see his price trimmed from the 10/1 currently available for Friday at Cheltenham after winning the Adonis Hurdle at 6/5.
2:40 Betway Winter Derby Stakes
Group 3, 1m2f
The Winter Derby is one of the biggest all-weather contests of the year. It is, therefore, disappointing that only five horses have made it past final declarations for a place in the 2021 renewal. Still, it has the look of an open race with all but outsider Power Of States in with a genuine chance of claiming the £30,000 winning prize.
Father Of Jazz (7/4) is the narrow favourite from Felix (5/2) and Forest Of Dean (7/2) with the chances of Johnny Drama by no means written off at 6/1. The favourite is lightly raced and will be feared if making further improvements but the extra experience of Felix may just count. Hollie Doyle partnered the five year old to an impressive win over Bangkok in January and while that form was reversed last time out there was a lot to like about his run in second over course and distance and he is taken to win here.
3:00 Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m
We could be treated to a real battle between a couple of potentially very smart horses in this year’s renewal of the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle. Atholl Street (2/1) and Calico (11/4) are battling it out at the head of the market and it would be no surprise if that battle were to continue all the way to the finishing post on Saturday.
Atholl Street has taken his bumper form to a whole new level having been sent over hurdles. He’s won his two starts over obstacles for Paul Nicholls and is probably the worthy favourite but those wins both came at Taunton and he’s taking on a much better-travelled rival in Calico. The Skeltons have had some very good success in recent weeks and the versatility shown by their charge in the early stages of his career could just tilt the scales in his direction so take the odds of 11/4 available about Calico.
3:15 Vertem Eider Handicap Chase
Class 2, 4m½f
The Eider Handicap is one of those races that punters love to pour over as it often provides a winner at a tasty price. The last 10 renewals have produced just one winning favourite and four winners at double-figure prices. The unpredictability of the race comes from just how severe a test of stamina it is. Just getting around the 4m½f trip is an achievement and with testing ground expected at Newcastle this will likely go the way of a well-handicapped horse with a big heart.
From the upper part of the betting market, it is easiest to make a case for Big River for Lucinda Russell. He does have 11st 1lb to carry though and a better option may be another horse making the trip down from Scotland, Strong Economy. Ian Duncan’s nine year old has really impressed this season as he’s stepped up in trip and providing he can dig deep enough for this first attempt over 4m he can at least fill one of the places at odds of 12/1.
3:35 Close Brothers Handicap Chase
Grade 1, 2m5f
Just like at Newcastle, the feature race of the day at Kempton is a very competitive handicap. The Close Brothers Handicap Chase is run over a mile shorter trip though and on very different underfoot conditions.
This race has produced even more big-priced winners than the Eider Chase and there is no reason for that to stop for the 2021 renewal. Alan King is certainly hopeful that Talkischeap can play a major role in what could be a huge day for the trainer at Kempton. His Grand National hope runs shortly after Tritonic earlier in the card. For all that Talkischeap has the class to win, it will be difficult to do so with 11st 9lb on his back so instead, consider supporting The Butcher Said at 12/1.
Olly Murphy’s eight year old has already attracted support in the betting and the early 20/1 about his chances have gone. However, 14/1 still looks a more than decent price about a horse who is a considerably better performer on spring ground and who only has 10st 5lb to carry.