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Royal Ascot winner Secret State was a big improver last season until he produced a below-par effort on his final outing. He’s been gelded since then and is the highest rated contender in the field, so will take all the beating if he returns in top form.
He does lack a recent run, though, and the same can’t be said for FOXES TALES who stormed home to finish third behind Lord North (who has certainly franked the form since!) on his return to action at Lingfield in February.
That was his first outing after being gelded, too, and while he was a place behind Tyrrhenian Sea there, he was closing on him all the way to the line, so it will be a surprise if he isn’t capable of reversing form with that rival here.
Foxes Tales was set some difficult tasks last year and while he did disappoint on his only outing in Listed company, he is a Group Three winner and should be capable of being competitive at this level with race-fitness on his side.
He’s a hold-up performer, too, so fingers crossed he gets luck in running under Oisin Murphy who guided the selection to Royal Ascot glory in 2021.
Selection: Foxes Tales.
Meeting abandoned. Course waterlogged.
Plenty you can make a case for here, but NAVAL COMMANDER looked a shade unlucky (he traded at 1.01 in-running) when second in a stronger race than this over course and distance last time out and has strong claims of going one better here.
He’s been raised 4lb since, which you could argue is lenient as he pulled nicely clear of the third there plus was successful off a 3lb lower rating at this track in 2021.
Stall nine is a slight concern, but if he can cross over and tuck in just behind Brains and Stockpyle - who are both likely to help set the pace here - then the race should set up nicely for him.
Stately Home, who was value for more than the winning margin suggests having met trouble in running when successful over course and distance last time out, and looks an obvious danger. Dave Nevison likes the chances of this six-year-old, too.
Aztec Empire travelled powerfully and won in good style when bouncing back to form to score over course and distance last time out on his first outing over this trip.
He was well supported prior to that victory and should have more to offer as a stayer with just five runs next to his name.
However, preference is for BANDINELLI who won this race off a 2lb lower rating last year. That was after a break, too, so the lack of a recent run isn’t a concern here and it was encouraging he returned to form when going close over course and distance in December.
Charlie Appleby’s charge was set some difficult tasks when his form dipped in the summer last year but his record at Kempton reads 21163 and a repeat of his effort 12 months ago will certainly see him go close again.
Duty Of Care has improved on his past couple of outings and won with plenty to spare when last seen, although a 5lb rise in a better race demands more.
We may have spoke too soon when suggesting the 2.30pm at Bellewstown was the trickiest puzzle to solve!
It’s hard to be confident on any of the contenders here, but a chance is taken on DEDANSER who has been given a chance by the handicapper after a few disappointing runs but has fared better on his past two starts following the application of blinkers.
William Maggs takes off a handy 10lb and it will be disappointing if the selection isn’t capable of being competitive.
Nicky Henderson’s Propelled drops in grade after disappointing, when sent off favourite, on his handicap debut last time out. It’s still early days with him, but he was also a shade disappointing on his first two starts of the season and needs to take a big step forward.
Dellboy Trotter continues to run consistently although, on a rating of 92, probably remains in the grip of the handicapper. He’ll be a popular selection with Only Fools And Horses fans, though!
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