Our racing expert marks your card for Wednesday's televised action from Kempton.
1:20 2m 32Red.com Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (Class 1) (4yo+)
There’s rain forecast and lots of it and that is going to seriously inconvenience Paul Nicholls’ Tommy Silver, who showed his appreciation for a decent surface at Leicester two starts back. Cyrname, the other Nicholls runner in the line up, only beat two other horses when scoring at Huntingdon in November and he was a fortunate second at Newbury last time, when just three finished. In which case, this looks a good opportunity for SHANTOU ROCK to get back on the winning trail. This 137-rated hurdler, created a big impression on his chase debut at Newton Abbot where he had The Unit well beaten off in second and it’s hard to see that horse overturning the form here. He was then beaten into second at odds-on on his next outing at Warwick, but he lost nothing in defeat as he again jumped with aplomb from the front and was conceding 5lb to a very useful recruit in Ozzie The Oscar. He may well make all this afternoon under Bridget Andrews and bet365’s 2/1 is standout (11/10 in a place).
1:55 3m½f (3m121y) (Winter) 32Red Casino Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+)
Midnight Tune galloped her rivals into the ground when winning a maiden hurdle at Wincanton last time, having finished a good second at the same track on her reappearance, and she’s still on a good mark (125) now stepping back into handicap company. The more rain the better for her as she loves to get her toe in, but the same comment applies to RONS DREAM, who has been given a right chance by the handicapper and gets the vote at a double-digit price – Hills’ 10/1 is big enough for each-way. Peter Bowen’s mare has faced some stiff tasks, including back-to-back Grade 1s at Cheltenham and Aintree in the spring, and this represents her easiest opportunity for a good while. Now running off a mark of 137, which is 7lb lower than her peak rating and the same as her last winning handicap mark, I fancy she can take advantage over her best trip and with her stable amongst the winners of late. Of the rest, Midnight Tour looks a little high in the weights, albeit Alan King is claiming 7lb off her back, while Jester Jet has a career-high mark to overcome.
2:30 2m Unibet Desert Orchid Chase (Grade 2) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Just the four runners and using the ratings as a guide, it looks a match between reigning champion chaser Special Tiara and POLITOLOGUE, with Hills going 5/2 and 8/15 the pair respectively. The former horse should be better for his reappearance third behind Fox Norton at Cheltenham, where his trademark exuberant jumping was again on display, and he should make a bold bid from the front as that is the way he likes to race. However, he’s rising 11 now and has always been vulnerable to anything out of the top drawer, which is something that can be applied to Politologue after he held off the odds-on Fox Norton in the Tingle Creek earlier this month. That was the six-year-old’s first success at the highest level having landed the Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup on his reappearance and this thoroughly progressive sort can justify odds-on favouritism here. The remaining two runners, Vaniteux and Forest Bihan, can fight it out for the third-place prize money.
3:05 3m 32Red.com Handicap Chase (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-145)
This is a very tight handicap with five of the eight runners priced up at 11/2 or lower with most firms, but a process of elimination leads me to Tom George’s BRANDON HILL as the most likely winner and bookmakers agree as he’s favourite across the board – bet365 go a joint-top price of 7/2. Sir Ivan represents the bang in form Harry Fry, but the handicapper may have him in his grip now now and he finished well beaten off a similar mark to today’s last time. Pilgrims Bay’s finest hour came in the Betbright Chase run over track and trip and is just 5lb higher, having been dropped 4lb since his fifth-place finish in the Ladbrokes Trophy. However, he is undoubtedly quirky and can stop in a second if not in the mood, so that’s always a risk for his backers. Tintern Theatre has failed to get round on two of his last four outings and gave his rider no chance when blundering badly at Cheltenham last time, while Holly Bush Henry has been doing all his winning over hurdles. The latter has won over fences and is now 8lb lower in this sphere, but the selection was progressive for Tom Lacey last season, with back-to-back wins at around this time last year on soft ground, and made a highly satisfactory stable at Ascot in November when only finding Walk In The Mill too good. He impressed with his jumping in front on that occasion and should be capable of better given he’s relatively lightly-raced. Best with plenty of give in the ground, he ought to at least give us a good run for our money.
All odds were correct at time of posting.