By Racinguk.com staff
Acting Lass bids to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in a typically-competitive renewal of the Betdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton on Saturday.
The three-mile contest has been run under several different names over the years, with long-time sponsor Racing Post followed by Racing Plus and BetBright before Betdaq took over sponsorship of the card ahead of this year's renewal.
While the race has lost some of its lustre since being won by the likes of Desert Orchid (1990), Rough Quest (1996) and Gloria Victis (2000), another intriguing affair is in prospect, with Acting Lass the clear favourite having won his first three chasing starts at Market Rasen, Leicester and Ascot.
He is a stone higher in the weights than when making a successful start to his new career at Market Rasen in November, and trainer Harry Fry is keeping his fingers crossed he can continue his progression.
Fry, who won the race with Opening Batsman in 2013, said: "He won a nice prize the last day, so hopefully he can continue in the form he has been in. That would be nice.
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"It will be his first time at three miles and I think he should it get around Kempton."
Master Dee is winless so far this season, but has been running well in defeat, including when finishing second on his latest appearance at Aintree in November.
The Fergal O'Brien-trained nine-year-old is one of two contenders for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, along with Jonjo O'Neill's Go Conquer.
O'Brien said: "He has been waiting for the ground to dry up a bit. It is still not as dry as we would like it, but we need to get on and run him.
"I think three miles is far enough for him. You wouldn't want to race him over three miles around Cheltenham, but around Kempton he should hold his own.
"Hopefully there will be something at Aintree for him as he has run well there before, possibly the Topham could be for him."
O'Brien's neighbour and former boss Nigel Twiston-Davies saddles Tintern Theatre and Ballykan.
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Tintern Theatre won over the course and distance before unseating his rider in the Peter Marsh at Haydock.
Twiston-Davies said: "Tintern Theatre did win well there. It is slightly different ground as it was really soft last time as it poured with rain, but we are very pleased with him.
"He is a novice and has got a very good profile for the race. He is a smashing work horse. He is nice and keen and does it well."
Charlie Longsdon is also double-handed, with the veteran Loose Chips joined by stable companion Monbeg Charmer.
"Loose Chips is Loose Chips. He goes a merry dance in front and he gets a lot of horses out of the race early on. That's just the way he goes," said the Chipping Norton-based trainer.
"He has a good record around at Kempton. Three miles might be a bit on the short side for him these days, but it will certainly be a strongly-run race.
"Monbeg Charmer has only had three runs over fences and is very much unexposed. I think the drier the ground, the better it will suit him and he gets in with a nice racing weight.
"He has got wound up before his races in the past, but we hope we've sorted that now and if we can keep a lid on him, I think he'll run very well."
Consistent mare Theatre Territory is at the bottom of the 15-strong field for Warren Greatrex.
The eight-year-old, who carries the colours of Robert Waley-Cohen and is ridden by his son Sam, is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time.
Greatrex said: "She's been running very consistently all season and probably should have won by now. She was beaten a length by Ms Parfois at Cheltenham (in December), which looks very good form now, and she probably should have won that day.
"I think stepping up to three miles on drier ground will suit her and we're hoping the cheekpieces will just sharpen her up a bit.
"Hopefully she's got a good each-way chance in an open and competitive race."
The weights are headed by Colin Tizzard's Theatre Guide, who claimed the prize in 2016.
Other contenders include the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Art Mauresque and As De Mee, and Nicky Henderson's Josses Hill, who sports first-time blinkers.
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