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Yesterday was a bit of a blood bath, especially at Ascot. Rohaan had a stinker and ran no where near to the level expected. Hamish travelled well through his race, but found little when asked to pick up. Gortroe Joe wasn't up the level of the ones who beat him, who disposed of him easily when turning for home.
Kempton is notoriously known for favouring front running horses. There are quite a few in this race who have ran from the front, so there could be a bit of a burn-up, or one horse might set a pace which is a little too fast as they will be under pressure from the ones in behind. I'm hoping that happens as it will fall into the lap of MASTER WORK who will be ridden with patience by Tom O'Brien and will be ready to pounce late on.
Mercian Prince is one of the pace angles in this race, and is a horse who likes this track. The form of the yard is a concern and I think he is a little too short in the market when other horses will pest him for the lead. Goa Lil might want this to turn into a bit of a stamina test over this trip, as it seems that he needs further, so he'd like a fast pace, but if that's the case, that'll put his jumping to the test, which has been ropey. Fairway Freddy is in the grips of the handicapper off his current mark of 126, in my opinion. And Tikkinthebox probably needs to be dropped a few lbs to get competitive in a race like this. Versatitlity makes his first run for new trainer Danni O'Neill, and that trainer has never trained a winner, so I can't imagine this will be changing tomorrow.
The selection runs well when fresh, so the fact he returns from a 200 day break isn't a worry, and he returns with Phillip Hobbs' yard in red-hot form. Phillip Hobbs has had 7 wins from his last 19 runs (37% SR). His current rating of 125 sees him on a winning mark over fences, so he is weighted to go well. He won on seasonal reappearance off this mark in 2019 in this grade, producing a career best run. Since then he has slowly been coming down the weights after a few good efforts off much higher marks (134 etc), until he won in December last year off 123. This ground should be perfect for him, and like I mentioned at the start, a pace collapse would be ideal.
This race has been on the radar and has been the target for some time for RED GIANT.
This horse won this race last year, and he returns to defend his crown in the Durham National Handicap Chase. Jennie Candlish has opted for a similar route this year, with his most recent run coming from Perth, like it was last year. The only difference this year is that he ran well! Last year he finished 7/8 and was 45 lengths behind the winner. This year he was pitching away and competing for the win, but ultimately finished 3rd, 2.75 lengths behind the winner. He is rated 113, but due to the weights in this race, he will be racing out of the handicap off a rating of 116, but off minimum weight of 10st. He won this race off 118 last year and off 10st 1lbs, so the similarities are there to be seen. The return to form last time out is definitely a hint of what we can expect, as this lad can be used as a front runner, and he can be hard to peg back if the ground doesn't get extremely soft.
Last year in this race they made the decision to use his enthusiastic run style and they made all, winning by 7.5 lengths. There isn't a lot of pace in this race, so there is a perfect opportunity for this horse to get into a rhythm and run from the front.
Jennie Candlish is having a cracking season so far over the jumps and the flat, and has a good record at this track. She has a 19% SR and a 20% SR in chases, which yields a +13.21 profit to £1 level stakes.
The Irish raider will have many punters backing him, as the raiders normally do. But off top weight and over a trip which he's never seen before, he'll have to have a career best to land this.