By Rachel Candelora
The all-weather has been keeping the show on the road this week and I’m looking forward to Kempton on Thursday night as it hosts the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” conditions stakes – a race in which European horses can earn points to get them into the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.
The two horses in the race that are nominated for the Triple Crown at this stage are Gronkowski (Jeremy Noseda) and Three Weeks (William Haggas).
Victory for either could easily see them making the journey to Louisville, particularly if they are also able to win the final qualifying points race on Good Friday at Newcastle.
As for the tips for Wednesday, the freezing wind-chill might be a factor at Newcastle this evening so I have focused on the afternoon action at Wolverhampton.
Critical Thinking won a similar race over course and distance two starts ago before a wide trip from stall 10 contributed to him only finishing fifth last time, again over course and distance.
That was in a higher-level handicap and dropping back down in grade and with the much better post position of 3 he has great claims of going in again.
Another positive is that Stevie Donohoe is back aboard and he has a record of one win and two placed efforts from only three rides on this son of Art Connoisseur.
King Kevin has become an all-weather standard-bearer, having scored four times from nine starts during the official all-weather season while not being off the board in any of those races.
The son of Holy Roman Emperor is returning to Wolverhampton over this extended 9f distance, where he is a perfect 3-3 and is dropping slightly in grade after two good runner-up efforts.
Owned and trained by Ed Dunlop, he has risen 24lb in the handicap this season and if he wins this he will be back sharing the top spot for the leading all-weather horse by number of wins. The most prolific horse during the campaign wins connections £10,000.
King Kevin will be short price but this does not seem to be a very competitive affair and it will be disappointing if he is not able to add to his already impressive tally.
I am sure that many punters have found this winter that when rookie trainer Olly Murphy has a likely short-priced favourite you have to make the decision to either row in or take a stand against.
Compatriot landed a gamble when making a winning debut for the Murphy yard over course and distance last week but can he follow up, under a penalty, in what is arguably a stronger race?
I think he is worth taking on, at his likely short price, and hope Diamond Reflection can outrun his odds.
Although a winner of only one of his 19 career starts (under both codes) he is currently in the most consistent form of his career and his stable is in pretty decent form too.
Although only sixth at Lingfield last time out, when apprentice ridden, he got stopped in his run at a vital stage and was only beaten three lengths.
Jockey Liam Keniry keeps catching the eye with solid efforts this winter. He was aboard the selection when scoring at Kempton last month, and is reunited with him for the first time since.
This 6f maiden should be a straight match race between Dubai Acclaim and Vj Day with the latter getting my vote.
This American-bred son of War Front, whose dam was a Grade 1 winner at Churchill Downs on dirt, is making his all-weather debut after three solid efforts on turf last summer. He also been gelding in the interim.
There appears far more upside to him than market rival Dubai Acclaim, who has looked rather one-paced in his three career/all-weather starts and comes from the yard of Richard Fahey, which is struggling for winners at present.
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