The Tolworth Hurdle, washed out at Sandown last weekend, has been saved for Kempton today with more or less the original cast of runners, but the sharper Sunbury circuit will provide a different test for some promising novices.
The Liquidator, unbeaten on two starts over hurdles and the apple of David Pipe’s eye, would have been in his element galloping up Sandown’s demanding home straight, but the trainer fears he will now be vulnerable to a speedier type. Garde La Victoire (1.35 Kempton), who was not going to run at Sandown, does possess a telling turn of foot, along with form that entitles him to compete in this company, and I fancy he will be the chief beneficiary of the switch.
Willie Mullins, so dominant on Irish turf, has decided this season to target some of the big weekend races in England. He has brought over a handful today, including Upazo for the Tolworth, and they are all to be reckoned with, although probably not what you would describe as the stable’s premier league.
Twinlight, who represents the trainer in the williamhill.com Chase, has won six of his nine races over fences and is still improving, but has yet to convince he stays two and a half miles and he will need to against Champion Court and Captain Chris, two high-class specialists at the distance.
Champion Court (2.10 Kempton) finished just in front of Captain Chris, despite a slipping saddle, when the pair finished second and third in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon last month, and may do so again.
Saphir Du Rheu and Junction Fourteen are two of several lining up for the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle who won impressively last time, but the vote goes to Kaylif Aramis (2.40 Kempton), a creditable sixth in the Ladbroke last time over an inadequate two miles.
At Warwick, the Betfred Classic Chase over three miles, five furlongs on heavy ground, is one of the most gruelling races in the winter calendar and may be best left to the novice Boyfromnowhere (3.35 Warwick), still attractively weighted after displaying all the right attributes in a similar contest at Fontwell last time.
In the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, it might well be worth taking a punt on the improving Deputy Dan (3.00 Warwick). His wide-margin Chepstow victory does not match the best form of most of his rivals, but this dual bumper winner has taken most enthusiastically to hurdling and may be good enough.