Tom’s having a lie down in a darkened room following all the excitement of Cheltenham and Aintree, but in his absence we once again call upon the services of his Channel 4 Racing colleague Nick Lightfoot who takes the reigns for this Saturday’s tips…
After all the build-up, Cheltenham and Aintree didn’t disappoint, with fantastic exhibitions from Sprinter Sacre and co thrilling the racing world. But even though Channel 4 racing will still broadcast National Hunt racing from Ayr and Sandown in the coming weeks, it’s clear that we need to don the ‘flat caps’ as the first classics of the season draw closer.
We’re double-handed this afternoon on 4, based at Kempton Park [where the car park resembles a lake] and bringing in the best of the action at Doncaster.
Richard Hannon’s Chandlery is something of a forgotten horse in the listed mile at Doncaster. The last time we saw him in racing action was a victory at Glorious Goodwood in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes, but that was in July 2011 and it remains to be seen whether the horse retains the ability shown two years ago.
With that in mind, it could pay to back known form, and Highland Knight aside, few have stronger claims than Gabrial. Richard Fahey’s 4yo posted one of the most impressive handicap performances of the whole season last year when romping to victory in the Silver Bowl at Haydock in May. That day he was talked of as a real Group-class horse and two valiant efforts in Group 1 company subsequently did little damage to his reputation. His turn of foot is a potent weapon and might well make him the one to beat.
Later in the card, the 20-runner 6f handicap looks a tricky early season puzzle to solve. Jack Dexter is clearly the pick on form. His recent defeat of last season’s Ayr Gold Cup winner, Captain Ramius, over the course and distance was a real eye-catcher. He quickened very stylishly and won with a bit in hand, but today faces a tougher task off of a 7lb higher mark. A value alternative could be Our Jonathan, who was only a length and a half behind Jack Dexter that day. His mark hasn’t altered, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that he won the Ayr Gold Cup off the same mark two seasons ago. Races early on in the season are usually the best time to catch him, and his recent yard switch to Tim Pitt’s looks to have worked the oracle having left behind his dip in form at the end of last season.
Solar Deity’s relentless improvement is unlikely to come to a halt in Kempton’s 3.50. The step-up in trip to a mile should suit perfectly and Marco Botti’s charge has already defeated the likes of George Guru and Atlantis Crossing, who re-oppose today. With very little recent winning form on offer it should pay to side with Solar Deity, even at short odds.
Good luck everyone, have a great day of punting.