Steve Hughes has selections for the big handicaps on Saturday
There are cracking cards at both Kempton and Warwick this afternoon with strong fields in four valuable handicaps that make up my selections for today. Our previous selection Christmas In April was a winner on Sunday when taking the Sussex National (SP 9/2).
Warwick 3.00: The Conditional & Captain Chaos
Some of the usual suspects contest this marathon and I have narrowed it down to two possibles.
The Conditional has an obvious chance having built on a promising novice career in Ireland with a couple of big performances since joining David Bridgwater. He outstayed the opposition on heavy going at Cheltenham in October, but improved again on that when chasing home De Rasher Counter in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury. Whilst he continues to go up in the weights he is still improving at eight and this long trip looks likely to see him in an even better light.
I am taking more of a punt with Captain Chaos who seems a bit of a law unto himself. However he has been running a lot around undulating tracks like Cheltenham and Chepstow recently and he just does not seem to get on with those. His winning form comes around the likes of Wetherby and Market Rasen where he finds it much easier to get up a good rhythm. As a result I think he will do much better around this sort of track. Blinkers, which have worked well in the past, are restored for the first time this season and he was a good third in a listed race on this card three years ago. Harry Skelton has come here to Warwick rather than take up some good opportunities at Kempton.
Warwick 3.35: Tedham & One for the Team
This Pertemps qualifier must be taken into context with the final in mind in that those at the top of the handicap, such as last year’s champion Sire Du Berlais are probably using this merely to qualify (finish in the first six) whilst those near the bottom of the handicap are likely to need to win just to make the final and be high enough in the ratings. Two in need of a rise are therefore fancied.
Tedham is a horse I have long been following and perhaps a first time tongue-tie can reap some improvement. He did not get the best of runs when tried over 3m at Haydock last time, but finished his race off strongly and this distance will surely be his optimum long-term. He is another who does seem to prefer flatter tracks and as such Warwick should suit.
One for The Team is very lightly raced but ran a race full of promise when second to Champers on Ice at Newbury last time. He can be a bit free in his races but after two starts now, the freshness should have been taken out of him. He does look a thorough stayer and an extra furlong on the distance should help him even more today.
Kempton 1.30: Mr Medic
An Ascot specialist, Mr Medic definitely prefers a right-handed track, and I think he should be just as effective around Kempton. Given better ground today too I think he is a major player.
He was bogged down on heavy ground at his favourite track last time, but showed up well for a long way the time before when the lack of a recent outing took its toll late on. His last two wins have been around Ascot including last season over 2m3f which looks about his optimum trip.
The handicapper has given him a chance by dropping him 3lbs since his last run and with jockey Stan Sheppard taking off a further 3lbs he looks well in under more preferred conditions. Indeed his last win came off this very rating of 134 last season.
Kempton 2.40: Notre Pari
This does not look the strongest of renewals in the Lanzarote and this looks best left to the favourite Notre Pari.
He showed conspicuous promise in novice hurdles without winning, notably on debut at Warwick where I marked him down as a horse to follow in handicaps. All three of his novice runs to qualify for a mark where over 2m.
However he was stepped up to 2m4f for his handicap debut at Aintree last time and he made no mistake in a useful class 2 contest. He enjoyed the flat track and an 8lb rise looks very reasonable given how unexposed he is.
0.75pts each-way – Mr Medic – 1.30 Kempton – 11/1 Ladbrokes, Coral
1pt win – Notre Pari – 2.40 Kempton – 7/2 Betfred
1pt win – The Conditional – 3.00 Warwick – 5/1 Betfred
0.5pts each-way – Captain Chaos – 3.00 Warwick – 14/1 general (Paddy Power & Skybet 1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt win – Tedham – 3.35 Warwick – 9/2 Bet365
1pt win – One for the Team – 3.35 Warwick – 11/2 Betfred