Armchair punters are in for a treat on Saturday, with eight quality races broadcast by Channel 4, the feature of which is the £100,000 BetBright Chase at Kempton.
Paul Nicholls opened his account in this prestigious handicap when sending out Gungadu to land the 2008 renewal, and the Ditcheat handler fields three in the 3m contest headed by ante-post favourite Bury Parade.
The eight-year-old refused to race on his intended penultimate start at Exeter, but the fitting of a hood did the trick last time at Ascot where he readily accounted for stablemate Grandioso, who re-opposes this weekend, and five other rivals in a competitive handicap.
On the face of it a 9lb rise looks fair and there could be better still to come from Bury Parade, but he will do well to concede so much weight to the progressive ARDKILLY WITNESS who can be backed at 6/1 with Sky Bet at the time of writing.
Dr Richard Newland’s charge did well over hurdles last term, but he has always looked the type to excel as a chaser, and that is proving to be the case. Indeed, he has taken very well to the larger obstacles, improving with each of his four starts in this sphere.
The gelding bolted up in a decent novices’ event at Wincanton on Boxing Day, and subsequently finished runner-up to Relax on his handicap debut at Sandown. He travelled and jumped well throughout the race, looking the likely winner at the last fence but was essentially outstayed by the winner close home.
Ardkilly Witness is a strong-traveller and promises to be better suited to Kempton where the emphasis on stamina is less pronounced than at Sandown, plus the better ground at the Sunbury venue will be in his favour (conditions were atrocious at Sandown). He’s clearly at home on right-handed tracks, too – his form figures under Rules going right-handed read 212212.
Philip Hobbs has a good record in this race and his representative Planet of Sound should make his presence felt, while those seeking a value each-way option ought to give Whats Happening a second look.
Advice: Ardkilly Witness – 6/1 (Sky Bet)
ISLAND CAN SAIL TO EIDER SUCCESS
On the subject of stamina, it will be needed in abundance in the big race of the day at Newcastle on Saturday, the Betfred Eider.
Venetia Williams once again underlined her prowess with staying chasers when sending out the first two home in the Grand National Trial at Haydock last weekend. She relies on Relax in the Eider, and the nine-year-old, who outpointed Ardkilly Witness at Sandown last month, will relish this stamina test.
However, a light weight will be an asset in this gruelling marathon and OUR ISLAND, an 8/1 chance with Bet Victor, could be the answer.
Tim Vaughan’s charge shaped well when fourth in a well-contested handicap at Cheltenham in his latest start on New Year’s Day, and he’s been given a real chance by the handicapper, now racing off a mark 10lb lower compared to this time last year.
Advice: Our Island – 8/1 (Bet Victor)
ANACONDA CAN STRIKE IN WINTER DERBY
Lingfield stages its most valuable race this weekend, the coral.co.uk Winter Derby.
Grandeur is undeniably the class angle, but he’s unproven on the all-weather and, moreover, he needs to be held-up in his races, tactics which aren’t always easy to deploy successfully on this tight track.
Conversely, ANACONDA tends to race on the sharp end and could benefit from an uncontested lead. He has a fair bit to find on official figures, but he did the job well when landing a 1m handicap here in November (form boosted since) and shapes as though the step up to this trip will hold no terrors.