Our racing expert is siding with the champion trainer this afternoon.
Paul Nicholls seized back the initiative in the race for the trainer’s title with a four-timer at Ayr on Saturday and, with the finishing line in sight (Sandown, Saturday), he will be hoping to edge a bit further clear at Kempton this afternoon.
That could well happen as all three of his runners look to have solid claims and Polisky might well be the final leg of a successful treble when he runs in the closing hunters’ chase. He’s a worthy favourite but it’s his two stablemates that make more appeal as betting mediums, starting with PORT MELON in the 3m handicap chase (due off 4.00pm).
He was a smart hurdler who did most of his running at Grade 1 tracks, including when finishing second in a novice here, but as a dual winning pointer he was always going to be a better chaser, and so it proved when he won a novices’ handicap chase on his debut at this track in early November, after which Nicholls described him as a “nice prospect.”
He then ran as well as could be expected of a 20/1 shot when finishing a distant third in a Grade 2 at Newbury later that month, with subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Un Temps Pour Tout and Aintree winner Native River ahead of him. Better was expected of him when reappearing at Exeter in March but he ran a shocker in first-time blinkers, stopping to nothing two out to finish stone last.
The headgear is dispensed with this afternoon and Nicholls, who is in better form now, has had a couple of months to sort out any other problems. He looks to have him a winning opportunity too, back in handicap company at a track which clearly suits him (form figures of 21) and over his best trip. The forecast good ground is another positive for his son of Presenting, whose progeny tend to appreciate a better surface, and he’s a very backable 11/2 to boot.
His stablemate CHARTBREAKER is a similar price in the following 2m5f handicap hurdle (4.30pm) and that too is worth taking as the ex-French five-year-old is making his handicap debut off what is potentially a generous mark of 126 after getting off the mark over hurdles over track and trip last time. That was just a novice contest but he had a couple of decent sorts in behind and he was probably value for far more than his one-length winning margin as he is a lazy type according to Nicholls.
Such types tend to stay one step of the handicapper, doing just enough to win each time, and he’s totally unexposed after just three starts over hurdles in this country. His debut fifth in the race won by Altior at Ascot in October now looks even better form after the second Ch’Tibello came out and won Saturday’s Scottish Champion Hurdle, and we can ignore his disappointing seventh on his next start at Newbury as he hated the soft ground, which won’t be a problem this afternoon.