Our selection last week, Elixir De Nutz, put up a really solid effort when winning the Grade1Tolworth Hurdle. He had to do the donkey work, out front on the testing ground, and when joined by Grand Sancy at the last, kept on bravely to win by 1/2L. Last year’s winner of The Tolworth, Supasundae, went on to take the Supreme Novices Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival, but on a strict interpretation of last Saturday’s form, Elixir De Nutz will have to improve quite a bit to repeat the feat. However that is by no means a forlorn hope, and this tough and likeable animal, who has won twice at Prestbury Park, certainly deserves his position towards the top of the market for the Cheltenham heat.
The ground at Kempton Park at the time of writing is described as Good, and Gary Moore will be hoping it stays that way for his charge, and the current market leader,
Kloud Gate, in Saturday’s feature. The ex French 7yo joined Gary last March, and was a pretty abject failure in his first 4 hurdles culminating in a poor 4th in a Warwick Novices in May for the West Sussex handler. However the penny must have dropped over the summer, because he hacked up on his 5th attempt. Starting at 4/6, he easily won a Leicester Class4 off a mark of 108, (2m4f Gd-Fm) at the beginning of December, and followed up 8 days later with another facile win in a Doncaster Class4,(2m3 1/2f Gd) carrying a 7lbs penalty. He has been raised another 12lbs to 127, and is up in Class, which at first glance makes Saturday’s task look pretty daunting, but in view of the fact that this staying son of Astronomer Royal, has performed really well, including at the top level, on the flat in France, and has earned in this country a current rating of 90, it can be argued that he looks well treated.
The Paul Nicholls trained 6yo, Darling Maltaix, put up a career best performance when stepped up to Saturday’s trip for the first time. Racing off a mark of 122 he easily won an Ascot Class3 (2m5 1/2f Soft) looking as if he could go around again. Raised a severe looking 12lbs tempers enthusiasm, but this son of the excellent NH stallion Voix Du Nord, (sire of Kemboy, Taquin Du Seuil, Vibrato Valtat, Vaniteux, Vroom Vroom Mag, and Defi Du Seuil to name but a few), is from a yard in rude health, and it won’t come as a surprise if he does defy the 12lb increase.
Another who has improved for a step up in trip, is the Philip Hobbs trained Cotswold Way. He has won all 3 starts this term, (all on good ground) and was quietly impressive last time in a Leicester Class3,(2m4 1/2f Gd-Fm) where, racing too keenly at the head of affairs, he had to make all. He won by 3 1/4L off a mark of 127, and only 4lbs higher on Saturday could be interesting, particularly if the rain stays away.
7lbs Claimer, Chester Williams is 3/3 this season on the improving 5yo,
Erick Le Rouge, and rode an excellent race last time to beat Saturday’s opponent, Mellow Ben, over course and distance. He got a good jump out of the son of
Gentle wave at the last, and vigorously kept him up to his work to win by 3/4L. He meets the runner up on 2lbs worse terms but as the younger and less experienced horse he should have the greater potential for improvement and confirm the form.
The career of the 5yo Star of Lanka has taken a definite upward turn since joining
Warren Greatrex’s yard last November. He has won 2 of his 3 starts for the stable, and last time held on to beat Geordie B by a Shd giving him 6lbs,(Hereford 2m4f Soft). As the runner up beat a 125 rated animal by 4L next time out, Star of Lanka’s mark of 130 on Saturday looks very fair, and if he gets Saturday’s trip, (not guaranteed on pedigree) could be interesting.
The Nicky Henderson trained Doux Pretendre didn’t seem to quite get home last time over 3 miles in a Cheltenham Grade2, but previously won an Ascot Class 2 Novices over Saturday’s trip. Mind you, that heat also seemed to stretch his stamina, but at easier, flat, Kempton, the distance shouldn’t be a problem. The Ascot form has worked out well, with the runner up, Stoney Mountain,winning easily at Southwell next time. It is also worth noting that Stoney Mountain had beaten the 145 Aye Aye Charlie prior to the Ascot heat at level weights, form if taken at face value, makes the Henderson horse look very well treated on his mark of 134.
Rated 77 on the flat, Lord Napier, has done well over hurdles for top Welsh handler, Peter Bowen (pictured). He won 3 of his 6 starts last term, and has acquitted himself well in both his races this season. Racing over 2 miles on each occasion, and looking as if he needed further, he finished a respectable 4th at Wincanton and 6th at Ascot last time. Saturday’s trip will be the furthest he has raced over, but he did win a Sedgefield Novices last term over 2m4f, and being by the great Galileo, he is a full brother to the useful stayer, the John Gosden trained Zenon, all of which augurs well for the step up in trip.
Selection : Lord Napier
EW. : Darling Maltaix