Chepstow was raceable today (Friday). Officials will check again in the morning, and, if it survives, the Welsh National (3.10) is set to be a cracking race. Best value to my eye is The Hollow Ginge at 25/1 to 6 places with Paddy Power and Betfair.
This will be his 9th steeplechase. He’s 8, and I think there could be quite a bit more to come, judged by his fine staying on fourth last time in the Hennessy. That was, effectively, his first race of the season, as he fell at the first at Kelso in October.
He has made the odd blunder and occasionally jumped to the right. I suspect that was why they put a visor on him in the Hennessy. The visor is back on for this, and I’d expect to see him hunted round until they reach the straight for the final time, when he should start picking his way through. That is based on his last run, where he was held up. They have tried making all with him before, so I wouldn’t rule it out, especially as it can be an advantage to be prominent throughout in this race.
The other one I believe will run well is Lord Du Mesnil whose target this race has been for some time (although that will be the case for quite a few running here). His trainer Richard Hobson has said that this season’s 4th in a hurdle and 9th at Aintree over an inadequate trip were chosen to help get him ready without giving him a hard race.
Lord Du Mesnil finished a fine season last year with a 2nd in the NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He started last season rated 117 (official ratings) and finished it on 153. His formline: 42211122. He’s sure to stay and is ultra tough. Mister Hobson has no worries about the ground. The reason I make him a slight second choice is that he is considerably more exposed at this kind of trip than The Hollow Ginge (therefore less open to improvement). And, at 12/1, he’s half the price of The Hollow Ginge.
I’ll back them both EW to 6 places.
I’ve always like Summerville and have backed him a few times. He’s one of those unfortunate horses who, in Grade 1 company these days, is too slow for two miles and lacking stamina for three. 2m6f might well be his ideal trip and he gets close to that in the Cleeve Hurdle (moved here from the cancelled Cheltenham fixture) which he won last year.
One of his two Grade 1 victories was at Sandown in 2018, the only time has raced right handed over hurdles in Britain. Back right handed today in Kempton’s 2.20, he looks worth backing at 6/1 (Paddy Power offer 3 places at that price) to overturn his Newbury form with the smart McFabulous
Young seven-pound claimer Kevin Brogan is bound for the top, I believe, and I’ll back both his mounts (for P Nicholls) at Kempton. Amour De Nuit in the 3.30 at around 12/1, and Malaya, a former Imperial Cup winner, who’s a 4/1 chance and runs in the 3.57. Note that these are not form selections (Amour De Nuit has won on soft, but best form far and away is on good ground); the 3.30 in particular is a very competitive race, but Brogan’s a hot talent, and armed with his 7lbs claim, he should reap the rewards with the rare achievement of making hay in the winter.
Finally, he’s odds on at 4/5 at the time of writing, but Imperial Aura should win the 2.55 at Kempton. This is his 7th steeplechase. He’s been brought along by experienced and smart owners (they had Imperial Commander, whose profile was similar; he won a Gold Cup) and he ended last season winning at the festival off a rating of 143. He runs tomorrow off 163 and is by no means done with improving.
Second fav Master Tommytucker is still throwing in the occasional blunder, and on his previous two Kempton visits he has fallen at the same fence. In the formbook the fences are noted as the 15th and 13th, but they were different trips: the fence was the same one
3.10 The Hollow Ginge and Lord Du Mesnil, both EW to 6 places
2.20 Summerville Boy EW to 3 places
2.55 Imperial Aura
3.30 Amour De Nuit EW 10/1 to 7 places – Skybet
3.57 Malaya. win only
Given the EW concessions, I’ll be perming my 3.10 picks with Summerville Boy and Amour De Nuit for 2xEW trebles and 5xEW doubles with Paddy Power
Good luck. Go easy on staking. These are fun bets only.