ALAN likes the like of the Kempton card today and has four fancies plus a tip for Newcastle and Lingfield.
The handicapper has thumped GLEN ROCCO, raising him almost a stone on the back of his recent eye-catching 23 lengths course and distance victory, but he still looks the one to beat in the 888Sport Handicap Chase at Kempton. His course second to Arkle-bound Glen Forsa is another strong piece of form.
Paul Nicholls is unlikely to repeat last Saturday’s spectacular haul but the master trainer saddles a whole host of horses with chances today, including Adrian Du Pont. The winner of a Class 2 chase at Kempton’s Christmas fixture, Adrian Du Pont may be the one to give Glen Rocco the most to think about in a cracking contest.
Nicholls has a magnificent record in the Pendil Novices’ Chase, winning seven of the last ten renewals, and SECRET INVESTOR can take his revenge on Wincanton conqueror Bags Groove. The latter has to put a disappointing Boxing Day effort behind him, while Secret Investor ran into a smart sort in Ok Corral at Warwick last time. He receives 5lb from Bags Groove which sways the vote.
The 888Sport Adonis Juvenile Hurdle is wide-open with some bookmakers going 5-1 the field. PROTEKTORAT runs in the colours of co-owner Sir Alex Ferguson and is back in calmer waters after running fifth to Fakir D’oudairies in the Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham. He makes each-way appeal at decent odds. Nicky Henderson introduces French import Fusil Raffles and it will be interesting see how he fares in the betting. Jumping recruit Red Force One, a fair handicapper on the level, also carries the Ferguson silks.
The Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle sees the return to action of Angels Breath, ante-post favourite for the Triumph Hurdle ever since his straightforward success at Ascot before Christmas. Henderson has been desperate to get a prep run into his grey gelding before Cheltenham but he has missed several engagements due to quick ground. At bigger odds it is worth chancing SCARLET DRAGON, a 100-plus-rated horse on the Flat who scored quite emphatically at Huntingdon last month.
With 16 runners declared for the Eider Chase at Newcastle there will be plenty of each-way action, with ANGE DES MALBERAUX arriving in peak form. Dan Skelton’s stayer won with a good bit in hand at Warwick and remains at the right end of the handicap, receiving plenty of weight from dual Scottish Grand National winner Vicente. The Nicholls runner appreciates good ground, so everything seems set for a big run.
OH THIS IS US hasn’t an easy task under 9st 12lb in the Class 2 handicap at Lingfield but he made an encouraging return at Wolverhampton in chasing home course specialist Hathal. Richard Hannon’s six-year-old was very weak in the betting that day and probably needed the run.