Impulsive Star is unlikey to ever win any awards for consistency but he looks a fair bet, at 12-1, to gain back-to-back wins in the Mccoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick on Saturday.
The Neil Mulholland-trained stayer kept on strongly to win 12 months ago despite a couple of scruffy leaps. Such a performance had been on the cards from him for a little while and the third home, Crosspark, franked the form by going on to land the Eider and finish runner-up in the Scottish Grand National.
Impulsive Star is just 4lb higher for his defence – he meets Crosspark on 5lb better terms - and the fact he has been pulled up in his subsequent three races is misleading.
Little went right for him in his final two races of last season, in the spring, and he ran much better than the bare form suggests on his return at Cheltenham last month – being competitive until four out and then being sympathetically handled by Sam Waley-Cohen when lack of race fitness began to tell.
I am not convinced Impulsive Star will ever be seen to best effect at Cheltenham but there is no doubt the demands of Warwick turned him on last year (watch below) and he is unlikely to lack anything in condition this time.
The application of first-time blinkers also catch the eye as, something of a thinker, he looks the type who will benefit more than most from them.
The Conditional and Kimberlite Candy are obvious threats after their solid runs last time but neither have been missed in the market and this track will ask different questions of a pair who look stout stayers.
My other fancy on the card is One For The Team in another qualifier for the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
This stamina-bred six-year-old, trained by Nick Williams, has predictably shown improved form since being upped in distance and ran a cracker when beating all bar Champers On Ice on his handicap debut in an 18-runner contest over 3m at Newbury in late November.
One For The Team was having only his fifth start that afternoon and he kept on strongly all the way to the line. Another tick in his box was his fluent jumping at the business end given his relative lack of experience.
The form of that Newbury race is working out well – the winner went close to following up at Cheltenham and the fourth has since won – and One For The Team is able to operate off a mark that is only 2lb higher. Moreover, he will be reunited with Sam Twiston-Davies, having been partnered by a conditional in the bulk of his races.
One For The Team looks an ideal sort for the Pertemps Final itself but his present rating of 128 will need to rise for him to get in.
I’m not suggesting (cough) that some in the field will only have eyes for the big day at Cheltenham in March, but equally do not expect to see One For The Team finish a tenderly-handled sixth. The lowest-rated horse in last year’s Final ran off 134 and, quite simply, he needs to rise in the near future to make the cut.
The early 5-1 has gone but he’s still available at 4-1 and it will do for me.
It could be a decent day for Mulholland because his Walt has solid claims in the Try Unibet New Uniboosts Handicap Chase.
The nine-year-old is only 4lb higher than when winning a valuable handicap chase over the same course and distance in February, and he confirmed his liking for an easy 3m on a right-hand track when scoring at Taunton on his penultimate start.
He also ran well for a long while in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last time only to fade when it mattered most. This is less competitive and he will have his optimum conditions.
The Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle lacks depth this year and the unexposed Notre Pari, who won with something to spare on his handicap bow at Aintree last time, is the one to beat.
The 3-1 available is nothing to get excited about, though, as he looks the type who needs holding up as long as possible and so I’ll pass on the race.
At just half point less, Frodon warrants a wager with the sponsors in the Unibet Silviniaco Conti Chase.
Last season’s Ryanair Chase winner has not been at his best in two starts this term but a stack of fences were missing when he made his return at Aintree (off a mark of 169) and last time in the Betfair Chase he seemed to be ridden to try and get the trip and it simply did not pan out for him.
He now finds himself over his best trip faced by four rivals who are officially rated 7lb and 19lb inferior to him. And, most significantly, Bryony Frost is unlikely to have any hesitation in attacking from the front.
Top Notch has many admirable qualities, but the odds-on favourite will face no easy task pegging Frodon back if gets into a rhythm.
Finally, make a note of Affluence in the ten-furlong handicap at Chelmsford.
Martin Smith’s strong traveller did well to win over 14f at Chelmsford in November, on his penultimate start, and caught the eye when fourth over 2m at Lingfield last time when given too much to do.
He drops back significantly in distance but he is extremely versatile in terms of trip and I would not worry too much about that.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday:
2.05 Kempton: £3 win on Frodon at 5-2 with Unibet
2.05 Kempton: £1 Exacta on Frodon to beat Top Notch
3.00 Warwick: £3 win and £1 each-way Impulsive Star at 12-1 with bet365
3.15 Kempton: £3 win on Walt at a general 9-2
3.35 Warwick: £6 win on One For The Team at a general 4-1
6.15 Chelmsford: Affluence £2 win at 4-1 with bet365
60p Win Super Yankee
2.05 Kempton: Frodon
3.00 Warwick: Impulsive Star
3.15 Kempton: Walt
3.35 Warwick: One For The Team
6.15 Chelmsford: Affluence
Plus £1.40 win on 3.35 Warwick: One For The Team at a general 4-1
Select any odd to add a bet