For all it’s freezing cold and pretty damp, this meeting at Kempton normally marks a change in the seasons when the ground starts to dry up. If the going conforms to the official description, there might be one or two results that raise an eyebrow.
That said, I’m going to kick off by being startlingly unoriginal in the Feature Handicap Chase. I thought the manner of Acting Lass’s victory at Ascot was pretty spectacular. His jumping in particular was excellent and I thought he had significantly more in hand than the eventual winning margin.
He’s clearly been well found in the market but he takes on mainly exposed or regressive horses and I like a horse in this race that can sit handy and establish a good rhythm.
I can see why you could be tempted by horses at bigger prices. Of those, Theatre Territory, a progressive horse whose second at Cheltenham reads particularly well and As De Mee who has been kept fresh until after the Grand National Weights were published, make most appeal. But, I’m most definitely siding with Acting Lass as my main selection.
Earlier in the afternoon in the Dovecote Novices Hurdle, I suspect Scarlet Dragon might be good enough to make a winning hurdling debut. He’s a genuine Group 3 calibre horse on the flat and might just have a bit too much speed for Mont Des Avaloirs.
Newcastle’s Eider Chase will be its usual slog and the one that appeals most is Hainan. Sue Smith’s horses are always well conditioned for a really tough test of stamina and this horse really didn’t look as though three miles was far enough for him in bad ground at Haydock last time – I can just see him going on and on and on; he might be a notch or two ahead of the handicapper.
At Lingfield, in the Winter Derby, John Gosden’s Utmost has a few pounds to find on official ratings to get involved. Having said that I was very taken with his run last time and there is a possibility that he could have a soft-ish time of things on the lead again. He’s a powerful, imposing horse and I think there could be quite a lot more to come. At the likely odds, I think he could make significant appeal.
2.45 – Hainan
3.00 – Scarlett Dragon
3.15 – Utmost
3.35 – Acting Lass
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.