We are getting ever closer to the Cheltenham Festival. Traditionally, that means that the quality of weekend racing dips somewhat and it’s fair to say that racing fans don’t have the same amount of high-class jumps action to get stuck into on Saturday.
However, the ITV Racing cameras are not short of exciting racing to broadcast. Kempton provides the pick of the jumps action with some excellent horses competing throughout the card while the marathon Eider Chase is not to be missed at Newcastle. A couple of highly regarded all-weather races at Lingfield add some meat to the bones of this week’s Saturday Racing Tips which include some cracking value picks.
1:15 Coral ‘Fail-To-Finish’ Free Bets Handicap Chase
Class 3, 2m4½f
After making steady improvement over fences to the point that he won his first chase at Sandown, One True King has finished with a disappointing fourth place in his two most recent starts. Nigel Twiston-Davies and the team at home are not overly concerned as an early mistake robbed him of confidence at Ascot and the heavy ground did for his chances at Lingfield. With the good to soft ground that has brought out the best in him so far expected at Kempton, One True King can get his chasing career back on track with a big run at odds of 15/2.
One True King’s price reflects the fact that he faces some quality, improving opponents at Kempton. While it would be no surprise if one of the more fancied horses came away with the win, it would be a surprise if One True King was not a factor so each way support is in order.
1:30 Betway Hever Sprint Stakes
While the big Flat racing of the weekend is taking place in Saudi Arabia, racing fans have a cracking card of all-weather action to enjoy at Lingfield. The Listed Betway Hever Sprint Stakes is one of the feature races on the card. What makes this year’s edition all the more interesting is the patchy form of the market principles. Four of the six runners are priced at odds of 9/2 or shorter as bookmakers and punters struggle to find too much between Lord Riddiford, Exalted Angel, Tone The Barone and Mondammej.
For all that connections of those four will be ready to offer excuses for their recent outings, it could pay to go with the most consistent of them. There is little doubt that Mondammej is that horse despite being the biggest price. Anthony Brittain’s five year old was too keen for the amount of weight he was carrying last time out at Southwell. Things should go much better for him off level weights even though he is running against a higher calibre of opposition so take the price of 9/2 available about Mondammej’s chances.
1:50 Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m
Although it’s been wet and wild across the country over the last week the ground at Kempton is set to be good to soft for Saturday’s racing. That is very good news for Nicky Henderson and all connections of Impulsive One. After scoring in impressive style in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh earlier in the month, Impulsive One is ready to back that run up with a first Grade 2 win over hurdles.
Victory would require Impulsive One to improve from his last couple of meetings with Knight Salute. Milton Harris’ stable star came out on top at Kempton and Doncaster earlier in the season but hasn’t been seen since the second of those runs. Impulsive One, by contrast, has been kept busy and keeps getting better so the time is right for him to reverse the form and cause a bit of a surprise in the betting at odds of 6/1.
2:05 Betway Winter Derby Stakes
Group 3, 1m2f
John and Thady Gosden run a global operation and will be with some of their star names in Riyadh at the weekend. They have another star name running much closer to home though with Royal Ascot winner Lord North leading the betting in the Betway Winter Derby.
Lord North is himself no stranger to starring on the international stage. He was last seen 11 months ago when winning a Grade 1 a Meydan and had an invitation to run in Saudi Arabia on Saturday but has instead been rerouted to Lingfield. While the prize money is some £1 million less than the Neom Cup, the Winter Derby looks a more sensible option for a horse who has been out for such a long time. Providing he is in good order, Lord North should make his quality tell to win the Group 3 at odds of 10/11 before a potential return to the Middle East next month for the $6 million Dubai Turf.
2:25 Coral Pendil Novices’ Chase
Grade 2, 2m4½f
Paul Nicholls has thankfully recovered from the poor run of form that badly affected his yard recently. He will hope that Pic D’Orhy’s disappointing run at Sandown earlier in the month can be put down to the problems the yard was struggling with at the time and that he will bounce back to form in the Coral Pendil Novices’ Chase. The bookies make the seven year old the favourite to do just that but even at his best Pic D’Orhy has never been the most convincing over fences and without improvement in that regard he will find it difficult to get the better of Minella Drama.
Minella Drama was last seen rewarding favourite backers in a Grade 2 novice chase at Haydock. He showed admirable spirit to battle away on soft ground and has the look of a horse who could be competitive at the very top level. Victory over Pic D’Orhy and his other three competitors at Kempton would give connections a boost of confidence that they have an excellent horse on their hands. That is well within Minella Drama’s capabilities so odds of 5/2 could prove to be generous.
3:00 Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m
While many of the leading contenders for the Cheltenham Festival have already had their final prep race, Shallwehaveonemore still has to earn his place at the festival. Gary Moore, still buzzing from Goshen’s win last week, is hopeful that his charge can do enough in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle to convince his owners that he is worth a shot in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in a few week’s time.
As happy as Moore has been with Shallwehaveonemore’s runs of late he believes that we “haven’t seen the true horse yet” and that Saturday will give us a look at just where he is. As Moore also says, Shallwehaveonemore will have a genuine test at Kempton with Aucunrisque and Iceo the most likely to get the favourite beat. However, Shallwehaveonemore is the pick of the bunch on form to date and has a whole lot of improving to do so he should secure the win at odds of 11/10.
3:15 Vertem Eider Handicap Chase
Class 2, 4m1½f
Emma Lavelle goes into the weekend with a 33% strike rate over the last two weeks. Several other horses have run well in that time without winning so Lavelle will be feeling confident about her chances of more success this week. Eclair Stuff perhaps provides Lavelle with her best chance of a winner over the weekend, certainly in terms of the highest-profile races ahead.
Whereas his jumping was problematic before, he took his fences very well when winning the Grade 3 Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick last time out and may well be improving enough to take a 10lb rise in the weights in his stride. The eight year old certainly has more big results in him over the marathon trips and will enjoy the ground at Newcastle so looks the one the others have to beat in the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase at 11/2.
3:37 Coral Trophy Handicap Chase
Grade 3, 3m
The Grade 3 Coral Trophy Handicap Chase is a great way to bring the curtain down on Saturday’s racing. Recent winners of this contest have gone on to run at some of the biggest spring festivals and Paul Nicholls will be hoping that a big run can be the springboard for something special from Lalor. The 10 year old has always been talented and had some very good days with Kayley Wollacott but connections felt that a change was required to bring the best out of him before his racing days are behind him.
The switch to Nicholls’ yard has worked out quite well so far. Lalor was unable to build on his third-place finish in the Paddy Power Gold Cup when he returned to Cheltenham in December but he looks well handicapped as he attempts three miles for the first time. Kempton is often viewed as a relatively easy course at which to introduce horses to the staying trips and off a mark of 149 Lalor can give each way backers a good run for their money at odds of 20/1.