Kempton Race Preview, 22/02/2020

Saturday February 22nd

Kempton 3.02
Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle Class 1 Grade 2
2m – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – 9 runners

Bathsheba Bay
On a hattrick after a successful sortie into handicap company at Musselburgh on February 1st, albeit in a 0-115 but going best, always first pair, until a mistake at the last and all out close home in softening conditions as Blooriedotcom closed up late. Progressing
Was in the process of running above his odds, chucked in at the deep end on hurdling debut, in Contenders Hurdle at Sandown – outpaced and got behind under a ride back straight but closing up as the leaders began to come back in the home straight in the desperate conditions (also strong wind during the race), closing and looking the most likely winner when trying to refuse and unseating the rider 2 out. Quel Destin going on to beat a below-par Call Me Lord. Separating the ungenuine streak that’s clearly in him from the performance, what happened was that he got behind and was flattered by his position at the time of his exit as the race up ahead collapsed; this is drier ground and gut feeling is to swerve
Two from two over hurdles and the second success coming at Doncaster on February 6th in a race affected by low sun, keen early as chased Glory And Fortune, closed up and moved best passing omitted 2 out, shaken up, put under pressure 150 yards out and got up late on. That runner-up has form against above-average recruit Thebannerkingrebel and the Doncaster race may prove better than I currently have it rated
Calgary Tiger
Midfield at best in four bumpers and, thrown in at the deep end for his hurdling debut, chances appear remote
Faire Part Sivola
On my ratings, best of two runs over hurdles so far (won the first, at Leicester in December) when 2nd to Calva D’Auge at Wincanton in January, this despite the right-handed track clearly not suiting him: chased leader (and winner), not fluent a few times, tended to lug left approaching turn out of back straight, niggled along going down the side to home turn, lost 2nd and pushed along going worst of 1st 3 who were clear, stayed on, drew upsides winner and every chance approaching 2 out, jumped it upsides, put under pressure, hung left towards stands’ side, upsides and the better jump last, maybe led by a head, put under pressure, stayed on, 1st 2 clear, could have gone either way but headed post. Having done that well on a track that didn’t suit, could go well again here (also on a track that’s unlikely to suit – hopefully he’ll take the stands’ side rail approaching the second last)
Garry Clermont
Best so far over hurdles, and second win over them (from four starts) when beating fairly useful juvenile Langer Dan at Ludlow on February 5th in a race ‘run’ at a dawdle early, chased leader 4th, mistake 6th, moved comfortably home turn as pace increased, led 3 out, pushed along, stayed on, 1st 2 clear, went 2 lengths up when mistake 2 out, sustained effort going to last, went left under pressure (into a left-hand whip drive), ridden out, stayed on well last 150 yards. There were 100/1-chances in 3rd, 4th and 6th which hold the form down, but it could be better than I currently have it rated – they haven’t run since, so hard to judge
Highway One O Two
On a hattrick over hurdles after two Plumpton wins, the latest on January 5th, pulled hard and nearly bolting as drew clear before 2nd, some 10 lengths clear 3rd, in close to 5th, appeared more settled 6th and was around 12 lengths clear, was closed on before mistake 3 out, moved best turning out of back straight, 5 lengths up and going best 2 out, pushed along going to last, drew further clear, mistake, pushed out, went even further clear last 150 yards, readily from Morning Spirit. He might have beaten a modest bunch and this company is stronger, but despite the way he went through the Plumpton race he appeared to have plenty left at the end
Kid Commando*
Earned high style marks when making a successful hurdling debut at Plumpton on January 20th, led, a little keen, wandered approaching 2nd, drew further clear 5th, travelled best turning out of back straight, not asked for an effort home turn as maintained a 6-length lead, still on the bit approaching last, not at any time even niggled along as drew further clear, impressive with something in hand over Jack Valentine (runner-up next time). More to do here but the potential in him is there for all to see
West Cork*
Lines up on a hattrick and best so far over hurdles when winning at Huntingdon on January 24th, head of main group from 4th as leader and eventual runner-up Mister Coffey (clear of 2nd and pulling too hard) and 2nd (clear of rest) broke away, gradually closed on them after 5th, readily went 2nd 3 out, travelled best home turn, challenged on the bit approaching 2 out, in close to it but led, pushed along, stayed on to draw clear approaching last, not fluent but 6 lengths up, at most pushed out but not asked for the maximum, readily and unchallenged. One of the best performances on my ratings coming in to this, has good claims

Shortlist: Kid Commando, West Cork

Kempton 3.35
Betway Handicap Chase Class 1 Grade 3
3m – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – 14 runners

Black Corton
The usual from this one in Silver Cup at Ascot on December 21st, run on officially heavy going; still quite comfortable in front 12th, in close to 3 out, led a neck home turn, headed 2 out, hard ridden, rallying and no more than 2 lengths down when mistake last, weakened last 175 yards, lost ground on 1st 3. The ground didn’t get the better of him until the run-in, but get the better of him it did, and he might need the going to dry out a bit more
In this race last year was 5th to Walt off 145, had a chance of 3rd 3 out, hard driven, one pace approaching 2 out. Ran like wanting a step up in trip and took full advantage when he got it in bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on the last day, good headway to chase leader going comfortably after 3 out, travelled best 2 out, stayed on strongly to assert over The Young Master run-in. Nothing much only start this season in intermediate chase at Sandown on November 10th, niggled along from 13th, started to struggle from next, mistake 16th, ridden into 3 out (normally 4 out), still niggled and got on terms with 1st 2 turning out of back straight, outpaced approaching 2 out, looked held between last 2, got tired approaching last and running on the spot last 150 yards behind Santini. Three miles at Kempton is of little use to this one and nothing expected off a crazy 157-mark
Ran away with a Class 2 handicap at Haydock on November 23rd,  not hard ridden as drew clear before 2 out, pushed along, stayed on and drew further clear of Sharp Response by last. Off a higher mark (17 lbs more than that he started the season off), did little in Silver Cup at Ascot, lost place and midfield after 6th, in close to 7th, niggled along after 10th, dropped rear from next, struggling and reminders 4 out, last and tailing off 3 out behind Regal Encore. Better left-handed and little now expected
Rather paid a price for a  good novice chase season in his runs so far this term, the whole thing a struggle in Silver Cup at Ascot on December 21st amd was beaten further behind Domaine De L’isle in 2m5f handicap at Ascot on January 18th, niggled along away from 7th, lost a bit more ground and midfield starting final circuit, lost place to a greater extent and towards rear 11th, pushed along and struggling some 12 to 15 lengths off leaders 12th, lost further ground after, no more, tailed off. Not sure what to expect but he’s been dropped a bit in the weights and isn’t without hope
Double Shuffle
It’s common knowledge that this one goes better at Kempton than anywhere else and in this race last year gave Walt a race (as well as 20 lbs),  led 9th,  headed 2 out, sustained effort under pressure, changed legs approaching last, unable to go with winner a few strides off it, rallied run-in but always held. Nothing near that since, last time in graduation at Ascot led 1st, headed after 4th, not fluent 7th, lost 2nd but remained close up after 8th, lost place 4 out, detached and began to look held 3 out, weakened further after, tailed off behind Riders Onthe Storm. Has fallen in the weights to a favourable mark and if the going does dry out, likely to go well
Romain De Senam
Was 4th to Walt in this race last year, then went on to add two more small-field handicap chases to the one he’d won at Taunton prior to last year’s renewal, the latest of which at Newton Abbot in May;  led and reached for 11th, ridden into 4 out, led 3 or 4 lengths 3 out, travelled much the best home turn, some 10 lengths clear between last 2 and not hard ridden, brushed last, eased last 100 yards,  unchallenged from Tea For Two. Disappointed at Newton Abbot when last seen out in June. There’s been no change to what circumstances he needs in order to win – a smallish field (nine or less) and good to soft or better ground; the going might be better but too many runners
Mister Malarky
Not having the best of seasons and and form only on second run of the campaign when, in first time cheekpieces, was 11 lengths 6th to De Rasher Counter in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November, lost place and midfield 12th, pushed along, made ground and prominent 16th, ridden along from home turn and closed on those ahead a little approaching 4 out, jumped left 3 out, ridden, no more from 2 out, couldn’t go on when mistake last, no further impression. Was prominent in the market at 5/1 but did nothing in Silver Cup at Ascot last time, struggling under a ride 11th, hard ridden and lost further ground 3 out, well back under a ride home turn, tailed off when pulled up. Having jumped left more than once before, not for me despite a favourable mark
Adrien Du Pont*
In this race last year ran 3rd to Walt and Double Shuffle, went well home turn, effort delayed, shaken up 3 out, closed on those ahead, put under pressure, looked held but stayed on approaching last, sustained effort to take 3rd run-in, no impression on 1st 2. No form since, when last seen was a distant 4th to Riders Onthe Storm in graduation at Ascot, mistakes, made ground under a push from 4 out, mistake 3 out, made ground and tracked leaders some 2 lengths down home turn, pushed along and faded approaching 2 out, ridden and dropped away between last 2, well back when took off too early last, no more. One way of looking at that run is that it was better than expected against one of this season’s talking horses, on ground that was too testing (last season’s best on good to soft or better); can be legitimately fancied here
Highway One O One
Above-average novice last season, arguably a bit unlucky to be beaten by Kildisart on one occasion at Cheltenham in January 2019 after making the running and jumping soundly. Best effort this season when 3rd to Just A Sting at Kempton on December 27th, led approaching 13th, some 6 lengths clear when ridden into 3 out, pushed along home turn, ridden when jumped slightly left 3 out, put under pressure, was closed on approaching 2 out, stuck to task but all out, put under stronger pressure approaching last as challengers swamped him, upsides jumping, headed 175 yards out, stuck to task, fading final strides. Dropped out disappointingly despite looking well in the paddock at Cheltenham last time, pushed along and lost place from 13th, dropped away, tailed off when pulled up before 3 out behind Cepage. Still a stamina query about him as he races off a maximum mark
Not a bad effort, but didn’t quite see the race out, when 4th to Just A Sting at Kempton on Decmeber 27th, held up, blundered 1st, headway and midfield 6th, further ground and just about prominent in chasing group 8th, midfield 11th as a couple pressed on, nudged along approaching 12th, made ground before 13th, kept on from 5 out, head of chasing group 4 out, niggled along home turn, stayed on to chase leader going to 3 out, not fliuent, put under pressure, sustained effort going to 2 out, within 3 lengths there, had half a chance going to last under driving, no extra last 150 yards, faded late. Stretched by the trip there, his chance isn’t an outstanding one but he might pick up some scraps
Winning chasing debut at Market Rasen in May; much better run although not impressing with jumping when 3rd to Deyrann De Carjac and Pym in a hot novice at Huntingdon in November, windy and to his left, particularly at the open ditches, headed 3 out, pushed along, no extra from 2 out, kept on, lost 2nd run-in. Best run since when, trying 3m for the first time, 3rd to Two For Gold in Grade 2 at Warwick last month, held up, keen, nudged along and slightly detached 12th, jumped right 14th, moved comfortably enough  till niggled along after 4 out, run blocked twice after 3 out, finally got a split home turn and ridden, no impression before in close to 2 out, kept on and had taken 3rd when not fluent last, ridden, kept on, no impression on 1st 2, eased late. Jumped better than at Huntingdon and, not positively ridden and twice getting no run turning for home, did okay; sceptical about his chances here though, as he’s often jumped left
Just A Sting*
In a race in which he ran well to be placed a year previously (2nd to Adrien Du Pont off his mark here, 137), won Class 2 handicap chase at Kempton on December 27th on last start,  in close to 9th, tracked leaders before 1st 2 pressed on 10th, chased new leader some 6 lengths down when in close to 4 out, niggled along home turn, some 3 lengths down 3 out, hard driven, stayed on, a length down 2 out, hard driven approaching last, effort and led jumping, put under strong pressure and stayed on well last 175 yards, just held off the fast-finishing Quarenta. Likely to be competitive
Effective at around 2m4f, but tried at 3m for the first time was found wanting when 5th to Regal Encore in Silver Cup at Ascot in December, mistake 2nd, headway and midfield going to 11th, niggled along away from it, steadied into 4 out and pushed along away from it, ridden in rear of main group and struggling to get on terms after 3 out, stayed on to within 7 lengths when hit 2 out, well held last, kept on run-in and had a bit of running in him at the end. Flopped to a greater extent when tailed off behind Ok Corral in Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last time. Either beaten double-digits or pulled up on all three goes at around 3m coming in to this, not for me
Dashing Perk
Unexposed novice: won at Sandown in December but better run in defeat when beaten by Mercy Mercy Me in January also at Sandown over 2m4f, led 6th, reached for 7th, pressed on from 8th, moved comfortably 12th, in close to 4 out, pushed along and headed approaching 3 out, rallied and led again, pushed along home turn, ridden into 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on approaching last, was challenged on all sides, headed last, hard ridden and one pace last 175 yards, stuck to task though was closed on last 75 yards. Unproven at 3m, he wasn’t strong at the end at Sandown last time and his ability to last out this trip is open to question, but quite close to Just A Sting on back form

Shortlist: Kildisart, Adrien Du Pont, Just A Sting

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