Tom Thurgood of racingtv.com looks at the early entries and picks out five runners of interest in potential contention for races at Kempton, Bellewstown and Chelmsford on Saturday. Enjoy further jumps action from Stratford too live on Racing TV.
2:05 Kempton: Racing TV Magnolia Stakes (Listed) (1m2f)
The highlight on one of the feature Flat cards of the year at Kempton, I was anticipating on not hanging around for long here given the remarkable record of the Gosden yard in this (five winners and two placed from nine runners in the past 20 years). Keep an eye out for the hopeful Clarehaven representative next year.
The Andrew Balding-trained Foxes Tales looks interesting here in his own right though, especially since he is race-fit and shaped quite well in the Winter Derby last month on his first start after a gelding procedure in form that has been quite well-advertised. That contest was a dash for home and the five-year-old ran on in pretty decent style at Lingfield after challenging from a more disadvantageous position in a race where it proved useful to be handy.
Tyrrhenian Sea finished in front of him at Lingfield but Foxes Tales was a length faster over the final three furlongs according to the sectionals and he can reverse form here, while favourite Secret State was likeable last year but looked a bit more errant as the season progressed and he’s significantly down in trip on his return and on his first start after a second recent breathing operation. This spot has the feel of primarily a sighter for something else.
3:05 Bellewstown: His Majesty’s Cup Rated Race (5f)
Sam's Xpress showed his rivals a very clean pair of heels last time
He's in fine form and might just land the hat-trick up in class.
His penultimate win at Dundalk which kickstarted the current rich vein of form has worked out pretty well for the grade (two subsequent winners and two placed runners not beaten far next time) while Sam’s Xpress looked better still last time when back in trip over five furlongs, showing good early speed before pulling away again at the finish.
He’s up a whopping 17lb in the handicap, but his rude health and race fitness are significant advantages at this time of year and slow ground doesn’t hold real fears, either. He also gets in at the bottom of the weights in this particular contest.
Kieran Cotter has proven a very dab hand with sprinters since taking out his licence (17% strike-rate, +£66.33 profit, 1.41 A/E) while the yard has made a decent start to this campaign, with one winner and two placed horses from six runners in the last fortnight (65% of rivals beaten). In the eight seasons that Cotter has saddled Flat runners in March and April, he has posted positive figures in four of those years (2012, 2019, 2020, 2022).
3.15 Kempton: Unibet Queen’s Prize Handicap
Duty Of Care posted his best effort on his return to action last time, hinting at more to come
He's still unexposed at two miles after two starts at the trip and has won eased down on both attempts. He has more to offer.
These staying races often prove a relative sprint for home and that set-up seems to strongly suit this Kingman gelding and half-brother to Expert Eye.
Duty Of Care has shown good closing splits on his last two starts – both victories over course and distance – and notably so on his latest start when comfortably beating the very solid yardstick Blazeon Five. He admittedly got a much smoother run through, bu that rival is still a three-time winner and three-time runner-up from six starts at two miles and Duty Of Care gave him his biggest beating so far. The third and fourth from the race have also performed with credit since.
Jamie Osborne has been going fairly well this calendar year and, before racing on Wednesday, is going at a 25% strike-rate this month from 16 runners (+£13.25 level stakes, 1.99 A/E).
5:12 Stratford: Hilda Peak Happy Birthday 9th April Open NH Flat Race
Paul Nicholls is firmly on course to be crowned champion trainer for the 14th time next month and this is likely to rank as one of his most memorable seasons.
Nicholls has broken the £3m mark in prize money for the sixth time and, with Aintree on the horizon, this could be the trainer's most lucrative campaign yet given he's around £300,000 away from the record £3.47m in prize money posted in the 2008-9 season.
Nicholls has never had a better season's strike-rate than the current 28% and, as well as two Cheltenham Festival winners among a total of five Grade One winners, the trainer has some exciting bumper horses for novice hurdling next season.
Nicholls has had 16 individual bumper winners this term, headlined by excellent Cheltenham third Captain Teague, and his strong crop has a 33% strike-rate this season (+11.34, 1.19 A/E).
Banteer will bid to join this year's winners and he made a decent start to his career at Exeter last time, making the running and looking green in the straight with the likelihood of improvement now. While the form has not been genuinely tested, the third Navajo Indy was just beaten on his next start at Kempton and may have won if keeping a straight course in the final half furlong.
Banteer shaped like a stayer at Exeter and the forecast looks favourable for him, with the ground described as soft, good to soft in places on Thursday morning with 10-12mm of rain forecast tomorrow and another 3-4mm early Saturday morning.
Nicholls has saddled nine winners and two runners-up from 15 bumper runners at Stratford (+£22.16).
8.30 Chelmsford: Ladies Day Handicap (1m6f)
It's fair comment that this finale of the 41 British and Irish races on Saturday isn’t a particular highlight but it may nevertheless prove a decent opportunity for Whatwillbe on his first Flat start since September 2020.
After a mammoth absence, the seven-year-old has had five undistinguished over hurdles this jumps season and, while he has something to prove here, he may just find this first spin on the all-weather since June 2020 a bit more agreeable.
Whatwillbe scored on that latest all-weather attempt – over this course and distance – and he’s only 1lb higher now for a trainer who has a notable record at this track and in Class 6 races like this one in particular (five winners and four more placed from 19 runners, +£5.63, 1.58 A/E). Olly Murphy’s string has additionally been enjoying its best spell of the season over jumps in recent weeks.Win hospitality for two to Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend on Saturday 22 April! Click here for more details.
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