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Three winners, one second and one third from six selections is much more how it should be. The winners weren't amazing prices, but a winner is a winner and I feel hard done by to not have a fourth as Kyntara definitely would've won if he didn't crawl through the final hurdle.
Kelso 12:50 – Chumlee 4/1 (1pt, WilliamHill/PaddyPower)
If Chumlee is all well and good on the back of his 291 day absence then he could still prove to be well handicapped.
This horse won nicely on handicap debut at Newcastle over 2m 1f on heavy ground, he cruised through the race like it was good ground and put the race to bed with a couple of nice jumps at the final hurdles. As a result of that win he has gone up 11lbs in the handicap, which might seem a bit harsh, but those types of rises in the weights happen when you win convincingly at the lower levels, but even off a higher mark I think he could still be on a good mark. The main issue is his fitness as he hasn't been seen since March of last year, and the form of the yard is a bit iffy, but I think they decided to save him for this point of the season where the ground will be testing, as that is something he clearly relishes.
The form of his win looks decent as the 3rd horse went on to win on his next two starts over hurdles and has since won over fences, and some of the horses further down the field have run well in defeat. Patrick Wadge keeps the ride which is a positive considering his boss, Lucinda Russell has a runner in the race who has shown glimpses of ability and he would've had the option of which horse to ride.
Kelso 1:20 – Tufton Avenue 14/1 (0.5pt EW)
I could be completely barking up the wrong tree by thinking Tufton Avenue has a chance in this race, but I do think the step up in trip could potentially mean he is overpriced.
It looks to be a tough novice race to win with the top weight already having Listed form to his name, but is he really that good? He finished last of three at Sandown in a steadily run affair, and considering the time before at Hexham he didn't win as a 2/5F should do, I think he has to be taken on. You could take a safer approach to take him on with the next shortest in the market, but I felt like the long drive up to Kelso for Laura Horsfall's first runner at the track made more appeal than the odds would suggest. Laura sends a couple up to Kelso, but my selection seems to be the main reason to be making the 600 mile round trip.
My selection clearly wants soft ground. His knee action screams out that he is a soft horse, so given the way he finished off on good ground over 2m at Doncaster was pleasing as that would never be his could of tea, you'd like to imagine. The way he stayed on would suggest a step up in trip would also be key to success for him as he was a PTP winner on his sole start between the flags over 3m. The form looks fairly decent with the runner-up winning on his next start and recording an RPR of 113. His pedigree would suggest he will be better for the step up in trip as well, as he is related to Trickaway who was a decent handicapper for the late Malcolm Jefferson who showed his best form over today's trip and he was a winner on soft ground.
Kelso 3:20 – Destiny Is All 6/1 (1pt EW, 3pl)
Jet Legs is a worthy favourite for this race given he is lightly raced over fences and has a low weight and arrives on the back of a win, but I thought the value in the race was Destiny Is All.
I've always felt Destiny Is All was suited for marathon trips and I even stuck him up for a 3m 5f race at Warwick a season or two ago which saw him finish second, so we do know he stays very well, as he also proved when winning over 3m 2f in strong staying fashion earlier this season. But, on soft to heavy ground I think he is more than capable of winning a race over 3m off his current mark, given Kelso is a testing finish I think his added stamina is going to be key for today's race.
He is running at the bottom of the weights with Paddy Wadge's 3lb claim putting him on a racing weight of 9st 13lbs. I think you've got to forgive him for his lacklustre display at Ayr last time out as something was clearly amiss, he was jumping to the right at many of his fences, which is something he hasn't shown before, but he still managed to finish 3rd and put in a good RPR considering his jumping wasn't great. He is 2/2 at Kelso over fences so it's a track he clearly has a lot of time for and this particular race has been a race that Lucinda Russell has targetted over the last three renewals, and she targetted it with Kelso specialist, Big River who won the 2020 and 2022 renewal.
If you look at the form of Destiny Is All's recent win at Kelso on good to soft ground it looks solid as he beat Half Shot who was clearly well handicapped as he proved when winning a Class 3 race at Musselburgh by 7L, recording an RPR of +11 to his rating at the time.
Kelso - 12:50 pm
4/1 @ William Hill
Kelso - 1:20 pm
14/1 @ William Hill
Kelso - 3:20 pm