It’s been a testing week at times for Nicky Henderson, with an unplanned veterinary visit from the British Horseracing Authority and much media attention over the participation… and then non-participation of Altior on Saturday.
Whether we have all heard the last of Henderson’s trials and tribulations with Altior remains to be seen, but the trainer will be desperate to send some winners out and, even without the help of his stable star, he has at least a couple of good chances to do just that on the card at Kempton Park.
He drifted in the betting ahead of his run at Aintree last time out, which was a surprise given his previous promise, but he clearly didn’t realise he was not fancied, because he won impressively enough despite showing a tendency to jump and hang to his right during the race.
It is surely unlikely he will drift in the betting going back right-handed around Kempton, especially as his trainer is now in much more consistent form than was the case in November. He has gone up 8lb, but this is not as strong a contest as it has been in the past and Notre Pari may well have been kept for it.
The trip and ground should also be ideal for him.
This horse has always been a bit tricky due to his tendency to hang and the evidence seems to be mounting that, over fences at least, he needs to go right handed.
He returns to the only track at which he has won at over the larger obstacles and can give Nicky Henderson another winner at a track he rarely leaves empty handed - I expect he will have already won the opener with Fraser Island, who looked an above-average juvenile at Newbury.
On The Blind Side might have been taking on something special last time at Ascot and had no chance with Riders Onthe Storm after the second last and although his opposition is useful here, there is nothing as good as that rival against him this time and he can defy top weight.
Anyone who saw this mare on her first run in this country at Cheltenham in November 2018 would have known that while she clearly possessed a huge amount of talent, it would need all of her trainer’s skills if she was to make the grade.
She went to the start like Lochsong and pulled like a five-furlong sprinter in the race, appearing to run herself into the ground, only to then stay on and finish a very good third to the useful Quel Destin.
Barry Geraghty looked to have done a really good job on her when we next saw her a year later at Cheltenham last month when he kept her on a tight rein out the back and let her run on towards the end of the race.
She has been raised 2lb for that run but her rating does not nearly represent her level of ability and if she steps forward again, I think she will win this easily.
Dave's top trio for Saturday:
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