Steve Hughes provides his best bets for Saturday
Unfortunately the continuing dry weather has hit field sizes today, but the racing is still of a competitive nature nevertheless. I have selections from three races on Warwick’s big card of the year, plus one from Kempton’s feature.
Warwick 1.15: Robinshill
2018 was a poor year for Robinshill but I am hoping the 8yo can turn over a new leaf on his first outing of 2019.
The gelding looked a promising novice last season when winning decent handicaps back to back at Ludlow, despite jumping markedly out to his left on that right-handed track. He was though highly enough of to take his chance in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, though he was outclassed on the day.
He has not been in the same form since, but his three outings this autumn have all be on right-handed tracks and I am convinced he will be better suited going this way around today. He is beginning to tumble in the handicap now and perhaps more positive tactics will help, especially in this small field. His best performances have come when ridden up with the pace. Paddy Power offer three places each-way despite only seven runners, making him decent value.
Kempton 2.40: Lord Napier
I have had Peter Bowen’s hurdler Lord Napier in mind for a big hurdling prize for a while now and this fast ground Lanzarote Hurdle looks the perfect race for the 6yo.
The horse was bred to be a top class flat horse with the Coolmore operation when trained by John Gosden, but lacked the raw speed to do well on the level. However he took really well to hurdling last season, winning three times, including at the Perth Festival. He then went on to finish a respectable sixth in the Swinton Hurdle.
He filled the same position in the hugely valuable Betfair Trophy at Ascot last time and he does look slightly one paced at the 2m distance. However he is unbeaten in two starts at 2m4f and looks well worth a return to that trip on a flat track and good going.
Warwick 3.00: Cogry & Duel At Dawn
A classy field for the Classic Chase and I have taken two against the field in a wide open contest.
Cogry is a horse I have been following for some time since connections twigged he is best on a sound surface. Unfortunately though I was not on when he bounced back to winning ways at Cheltenham last time, where the addition of cheekpieces worked a treat. He is only up 3lbs for that and is a wonderfully consistent stayer now he has sorted out his once suspect jumping. Second in this race last year, he will be helped by this unusually dry winter.
Duel At Dawn is expected to run a big race as I am sure he will come on massively for his first run of the season at Haydock before Christmas. I don’t think he was fully wound up that day and faded quickly late on. However his usual cheekpieces were not on that day and are sported again here. Last season he was a fine third to Ms Parfois on this card and is another best on this sort of going. He was aimed for the 4m novice at the Cheltenham Festival last season, indicating connections think his main asset is stamina, yet he is unexposed beyond 3m.
Warwick 3.35: First Assignment
The highly progressive First Assignment can earn a place at the Cheltenham Festival with a third win of the campaign in this Pertemps qualifier.
A brave winner of his reappearance race at Cheltenham, he was mightily impressive when stepped up to 3m for the first time at the same track in November, storming home by 9l on similar going to today. Trainer Ian Williams felt obliged to bring him out just seven days later under a penalty in a valuable Haydock pot, but he was probably feeling the effects of that recent outing when only managing third. However in hindsight a 2l defeat to subsequent Long Walk hurdler Paisley Park was a decent effort.
He should be back to his peak after a six week break now and will of course be qualified for the final at Cheltenham with a top six place here. However it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an impressive win here could see his sights raised more ambitiously towards the Stayers Hurdle itself.
0.75pts each-way – Robinshill – 1.15 Warwick – 8/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds first 3)
1pt win – Lord Napier – 2.40 Kempton – 5/1 Coral
0.75pts each-way – Cogry – 3.00 Warwick – 7/1 general
0.75pts each-way – Duel At Dawn – 3.00 Warwick – 7/1 William Hill, Coral
2pts win – First Assignment – 3.35 Warwick – 100/30 Bet365, BetVictor