Warwick and Kempton play host to the best of the National Hunt racing in Britain this weekend. The ITV Racing cameras will be in attendance at both tracks to broadcast the action which includes big races such as the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle, the Silviniaco Conti Chase and the Classic Handicap Chase. There is great entertainment ahead and plenty of chances to beat the bookies so let’s get stuck straight into this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:18 Alder Demain & Akers MPS Oxford Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m
Sky Pirate is clearly the classiest horse in the field for Saturday’s opener. He was last seen taking on Shishkin and Greaneteen in a Grade 2 at Kempton and while he finished behind that high-class pair, he did manage to turn the tables with Before Midnight who had beaten him in his last two races.
He was able to do so because the terms were much less onerous in a Graded race compared to a handicap. It’s back to handicap company on Saturday and Sky Pirate is not only top weight but he is carrying at least a stone and a half more than all three of his rivals. This is a major test, especially with bookies’ favourite Brave Seasca still appearing fairly well treated. It is one he can pass though, with that spin against top-level opposition likely to bring out the best of him. He’s a battling type who has really improved for the return to two miles and a run of the quality of his Grand Annual win last year could be enough to win at odds of 10/3.
1:32 Coral “Fail-To-Finish” Free Bets Handicap Chase
Class 3, 2m4½f
The key question ahead of his intermediate handicap chase is whether or not Foxboro has really found his feet on British soil. He was an exciting recruit to Robert Walford’s yard from France back in December 2020 and missed out by just ahead on his British debut at Plumpton. That is still as close as he has come to winning but he was an eyecatcher when second to Native Robin at Wincanton last time.
Were it not for some sloppy jumping, Foxboro would surely have won as he plugged on impressively on Boxing Day. That performance has arrested his slide in the weights but he was only put up a single pound by the handicapper and can score off a mark of 118 for his first win in Britain at a price of 9/2.
1:50 Wigley Group Hampton Novices’ Chase
Grade 2, 3m
When Threeunderthrufive won a three runner race at Doncaster in December, his owner’s racing manager suggested that the seven year old will have a break before potentially heading to the new Winter Million meeting at Lingfield. His return to action in the Hampton Novices’ Chase has come quicker than initially thought but the bookies think it will prove to be a wise decision as he is a best price of 4/7 to win this chase over three miles.
As is the case with most quality horses at this time of year, Cheltenham targets are very much on the mind of all connected to Threeunderthrufive. Paul Nicholls doesn’t believe that his inmate quite has the pace for the Paddy Power Plate but the National Hunt Chase is a very plausible target and Threeunderthrufive should take another positive step toward the festival with victory at Warwick.
2:05 Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase
Grade 2, 2m4½f
The Silviniaco Conti Chase tends to produce small but select fields. That’s the case this year with Mister Fisher, Eldorado Allen, Rouge Vif and Defi Du Seuil the only horses to have stood their ground. Mister Fisher is the 7/4 favourite as he returns to Grade 2 company after his run in the King George which ended with him being pulled up. It’s Eldorado Allen, winner of the Haldon Gold Cup who gets the nod though at odds of 5/2.
It took a very good performance from Colin Tizzard’s inmate to get the better of Greaneteen and Hitman at Exeter. He was then just as good in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon but found First Flow and Funambule Sivola too good on the day. If he can maintain those high standards, Eldorado Allen should edge out his quality opponents.
2:25 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m5f
Horse racing trainers can do all the planning and work they like at home but they won’t know whether it’s worked until their horse takes to the track. That was the case for Archie Watson ahead of Stag Horn’s hurdling debut at Hereford. Having found him increasingly difficult to place on the Flat, Watson convinced Stag Horn’s connections to try him over hurdles with legendary trainer Henrietta Knight doing a lot of his schooling work before his first run in a novice hurdle race.
While Stag Horn’s jumping was by no means perfect, there was a lot to like about the way he took to hurdling. So much so in fact that Watson said that the hope was to send him to the Cheltenham Festival. Hurdling allows Stag Horn to really make full use of his stamina and the step up to 2m5f is not a concern with Watson suggesting he will get three miles in time. At a general price of 4/1, Stag Horn offers appeal on this step up in class.
2:40 Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle
The Coral Lanzarote Hurdle is the big race of the day at Kempton. This Grade 2 has been won by several high-class horses over the years but it’s also thrown up some surprises. Fortunately, we have a full field of 20 competitors turning out this year which throws up a lot of options from throughout the betting.
Marie’s Rock and Gelino Bello are worthy of their lofty position in the market but there is value to be found and it could well be worth taking a punt on Highway One O Two at 25/1. He took advantage of a drop-down in grade to win a Class 3 handicap, a win that bodes well as he faces a better standard of opponent at Kempton. Likely as it is that he’ll find at least one too good on the day, Highway One O Two has bags of stamina so will keep on battling all the way to the line and can grab himself a place.
3:00 Agetur Uk Ltd Classic Handicap Chase
Grade 3, 3m5f
The Classic Handicap Chase is always a race from which racing fans take several horses. There are some high-class staying chasers in this year’s renewal, some of whom will be seen in the biggest handicaps over the course of the season. Corach Rambler is one such horse with his trainer Lucinda Russell hopeful of a tilt at the Scottish Grand National in April.
Corach Rambler is arguably the classiest horse in the race but he’s also carrying 11st12lb, more than all but one of the last 10 Classic Chase winners. While Corach Rambler and others have their main targets still to come, this is the race that Alan King has been aiming Notachance at since the start of the campaign. A couple of very poor runs at the end of last season could be forgiven as he was suffering from a hind hoof injury. That has cleared up now and he has improved with his two warm-up runs suggesting he could come right at the perfect time to land the Classic Chase at odds of 10/1.
3:15 Coral Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Chase
Class 2, 3m
Forgiveness is in the air for the Coral Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Chase. Caribean Boy finished 10th of 19 on his first run of the season and then failed to make it over the first fence at Ascot last time out. Nevertheless, Nicky Henderson’s eight year old is the joint-favourite at Kempton.
It’s difficult to tell from the pictures just what went wrong at Ascot but it could well be that he didn’t make too big a mistake and was actually brought down upon landing among the melee of the first fence. He’s generally jumped well and three miles looks the perfect trip so give Caribean Boy another chance and back him at 7/2.
3:35 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 3m1f
A punter’s job is to try to find value wherever it lies. Several shrewd punters sniffed out that value on Riggs last time out when he was sent off at a chunky price of 11/1 despite having a stronger claim than those odds suggested. While he didn’t win that day at Haydock, Riggs ran with tremendous promise and returned nicely for his each way backers.
Riggs has the look of a horse with more to give and he gets the sort of soft ground that he relishes on Saturday. However, he is nowhere near as easy to back at 11/4, especially when there is 10/1 available about Sire Du Berlais’ chances. The sole Gordon Elliott representative remaining in the race after final declarations, Sire Du Berlais does have the burden of top weight to deal with but he is the sort of horse who tends to get better as the season goes on and is well worth each way support at the odds.