Kempton stages a cracking card on Saturday afternoon with four graded contest including possible Cheltenham Festival clues in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle and the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle.
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Our tipster has selections for all the action at Kempton (1.15pm-4.45pm, seven races) on Saturday.
1.15 – Close Brothers Asset Finance Handicap Hurdle (2m5f)
Major Dundee and Diocletian are making their first forays into handicaps and looked the types to improve for that, while Ecco was second over C&D on Boxing Day and has landed an all-weather score since. TOP MAN has ground to make up on Paul Nicholls’ charge from that Christmas contest but he has a good Kempton record and should build on that confidence-building run here having twice previously fallen over fences. He’s still low-mileage over timber and should outrun his odds.
Selection: Top Man
1.50 – Close Brothers Pendil Novices’ Chase (Grade 2, 2m4½f)
Four contenders for this Grade 2 prize and the betting suggests a duel between Tamaroc Du Mathan and GA LAW. The former ran well behind Shishkin here at Christmas following a winning chase bow at Wincanton but there are some concerns over his stamina upped in trip. Not so Ga Law, victorious already in this grade over this distance this season. He couldn’t dominate last time in the Grade 1 Henry VIII at Sandown as leading Arkle contender Allmankind did that, while the drop to 2m also posed a question for him that December day. This trip and track are ideal for him and he can run the finish from his rivals.
Selection: Ga Law @
2.25 – Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2, 2m)
A Royal Ascot runner-up last summer, smart Flat performer TRITONIC made a perfect start over timber last month at Ascot, running on strongly to claim the re-opposing Casa Loupi late on. He should build on that as trainer Alan King goes for a third Adonis win in five years and a record-equalling fifth overall. Honneur D’ajonc would surely have collected here last time bar a fall at the last and is a player, while ex-Irish Flat performer Paso Doble commands maximum respect commencing his hurdles career in a race his new handler Paul Nicholls has won five times.
Selection: Tritonic @
3.00 – Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2, 2m)
Atholl Street is progressing nicely for Paul Nicholls and looks a major player on the back of his most recent Taunton win, but he has been allowed a fairly easy time in front thus far and it will be interesting to see how he copes under more pressure. Ludlow winner Calcio should also go well but Irish Cesarewitch hero CAPE GENTLEMAN is an intriguing raider for trainer Emmet Mullins. Things didn’t go his way in a Leopardstown Grade 1 recently over further but he had a nightmare trip that day. This reduced journey should be fine and he’s a big threat under Jonjo O’Neill Jr.
Selection: Cape Gentleman @
3.35 – Close Brothers Handicap Chase (Grade 3, 3m)
Last year’s one-two Mister Malarky and Black Corton are back for more, while veterans Aso and Double Shuffle are off the back of pleasing efforts and join a lengthy list of contenders that includes Cap Du Nord, Southfield Stone and Al Dancer, if he sees the trip out. A chance though is handed to THE BUTCHER SAID following wind surgery. Olly Murphy’s charge had a couple of autumn wins over this distance and just didn’t appear to go through with his effort at Doncaster last month in Listed company. He’s got a chance having been eased 2lb for that run.
Selection: The Butcher Said @
4.10 – Close Brothers Motor Finance Handicap Chase (2m4½f)
Ouro Branco essentially took another step forward when chasing home Fegan at Newbury last time and is now 3-5 over fences. He rates a key player but preference is for Dan Skelton’s MONSIEUR D’ARQUE. He finished second in his three most recent starts in the autumn and is one that’s proven to go well fresh. He’s had a wind op since he was last spotted and he returns with his stable in red-hot form and looking for another Saturday afternoon winner.
Selection: Monsieur D’arque
4.45 – Close Brothers Premium Finance Standard Open NH Flat Race (2m)
The betting should be helpful for the finale. Commander Rocks won a junior bumper at Huntingdon in November for his previous trainer but may have more on his plate now. Guardino should have more to offer for Ben Pauling and Nico de Boinville but newcomers Tamgho Borget and UNANSWERED PRAYERS are notables. They fought out the finish in an Irish point-to-point in the autumn and there wasn’t much in it, the former prevailing before joining Paul Nicholls. He’s obviously got leading claims but Chris Gordon’s bumper horses are doing very well lately and maybe the market is going to underestimate his challenger.
Selection: Unanswered Prayers
*All odds correct at time of writing