Steve Hughes has picks from the best of Kempton’s opening jumps fixture
Kempton’s first jumping card of the season has become synonymous with fast ground and this year’s fixture follows the norm after a dry week. That said there is still plenty enough quality on offer.
Kempton 3.40: Copain de Classe
We have already seen this season what benefit a wind operation can have on Paul Nicholls’ string with Grand Sancy producing huge improvement to win at Chepstow last weekend. Another beneficiary could be Copain de Classe at Kempton today.
The 6yo has always looked a natural chaser, but could only win once last term in his novice campaign and that was effectively a walkover at Fontwell. However his jumping cannot be faulted and when racing on good ground for his seasonal return at Ascot last term he looked a horse to follow, cruising through to two out only to weaken late.
That notable drop off late on in his race became a trend, especially on softer going, so he did look a prime candidate for the wind op. If that can help him see out his races better than he could be a very well handicapped horse off 130 given his ability to jump and travel in his races – an important attribute around this flat track on fast ground.
Kempton 4.10: Verdana Blue
There are few horses out there for whom fast ground is so vital over jumps than Verdana Blue. Given her optimum conditions today I expect the mare to be too pacy for her rivals in this feature event.
She ran some excellent races in the first half of last season, all at Ascot. She won a 2m handicap in November and went on to place third before Christmas in one of the most valuable handicaps of the season. Whilst she did finish the campaign weakly, I think a summer’s break and a return to fast conditions will do the track.
She has already proved her wellbeing by trotting up in a flat race at Chelmsford (the fastest of the All Weather tracks) beating horses from some top flat stables in the process. There are no doubts about her fitness therefore and that 7lb mares allowance will come in handy too.
1pt win – Copain de Classe – 3.40 Kempton – 11/4 general
2pts win – Verdana Blue – 4.10 Kempton – 5/6 Skybet, Paddy Power