Steve Hughes looks ahead to today’s big jumps fixture at Kempton.
The weather continues to take its toll with both Chepstow and Newcastle falling by the wayside. However Kempton’s traditional “Festival Trials” day offers plenty of strong contests. I have selections from three of the feature races.
Kempton 1.15: Who Dares Wins
The return of cheekpieces for the first time this season should be a big plus for Who Dares Wins.
The ultra versatile gelding has multiple placed efforts to his name in the big staying handicaps on the flat (Chester Cup, Northumberland Plate etc) and is a Grade 2 winner over hurdles. However he has taken well enough to jumping fences this season and can put his flat speed to good use around this sharp track.
He made his debut over the bigger obstacles here in November when chasing home today’s rival Master Tommytucker, running him to a half-length. I think the tables can be turned here with a fierce headwind in the straight likely to prove tough for front-runners and the usual headgear back on. Whilst he was beaten at long odds-on at Plumpton last time, he will have gained valuable experience that day and that track was probably not to his liking.
Kempton 3.02: Buzz
Another horse who comes from a flat racing background originally in Buzz looks the standout for this 2m Grade 2.
Rated 96 on the level, he acts on soft ground as exemplified by his valuable handicap win at Newbury in the autumn of 2018. He even managed a third place at listed level over 14f at York last summer. However he was going to be difficult to place off that rating and instead has been given an opportunity over hurdles. As usual trainer Nicky Henderson has an abundance of riches in the novice hurdle department and Buzz holds Cheltenham Festival entries.
He has taken extremely well to jumping with a 2-2 record to date. His debut win at Taunton has been considerably boosted by the second home Galahad Quest winning at Cheltenham last month. He has since won again at Doncaster, although he gave me the impression that day that he would not want any more stiff a test of stamina than that galloping track. This speed favouring track will be far more his cup of tea.
Kempton 3.35: Black Corton & Kildisart
Two against the field for the big betting race of the day.
Old favourite Black Corton has been running so well in top handicap chases this season and can gain the victory his consistency deserves. He was second in the Galway Plate having been carried wide by a loose horse on the home turn. Since then he has placed third and fourth at Ascot in two valuable prizes and the handicapper has given him a chance by dropping him 4lbs for those two defeats. Ultra tough, he is a grade 1 winner over course and distance when taking the Kauto Star a couple of seasons ago.
At bigger odds Kildisart appeals. He looked a progressive novice when winning big handicaps at Cheltenham and Aintree last season and was fourth in the JLT at the Festival. He has been nowhere near that level this term, but the Ben Pauling yard has been seriously out of sorts. They have been going better of late and I think Kildisart will also be suited by slightly better going today. His defeats also mean he is back to a competitive mark only 3lbs higher than for his authoritative win at Aintree.
0.75pts each-way – Who Dares Wins – 1.15 Kempton – 8/1 general (Paddy Power 1/5 odds 1st 3)
1.5pts win – Buzz – 3.02 Kempton – 2/1 general
1pt each-way – Black Corton – 3.35 Kempton – 5/1 general (Paddy Power 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Kildisart – 3.35 Kempton – 12/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)