The Cheltenham Festival may have come to an end, but ITV are broadcasting brilliant racing as ever on Saturday. Our editor has selections in all eight races live tomorrow.
Certainly Red (1.30 Kempton)
Five of the six runners can barely be split in the market in Kempton’s opener. Even outsider Ebony Gate is not a mile away.
It does look set up for CERTAINLY RED to go well, if he can ensure that no mistakes creep in like one he made at the second last on his previous start. But for that horrible error, he looked like running on into second at least and still managed to finish third.
Three miles on a decent surface should suit him and despite running much more promisingly than the result suggested last time, he is down a further 1lb for this contest.
With none of his rivals arriving in blistering form, he might be the best treated on his recent efforts.
Serious Charges (1.50 Uttoxeter)
The form of SERIOUS CHARGES’ first win over hurdles at Exeter in January has worked out well.
Similarly, any horse who can follow up in novice company under a penalty is worth a look once they move into handicaps. In that first victory, he beat Scarface, a horse of Colin Tizzard’s who very nearly defeated the unbeaten Skytastic at Ascot before running at the Cheltenham Festival this week.
At Fontwell the following month, Serious Charges made all from the front when upped significantly in trip. Despite a mistake at the last, he won decisively enough under the aforementioned 7lb penalty.
A mark of 120 is a generous one for his handicap debut based on what he’s achieved in those victories and he could easily make further progress here for Anthony Honeyball.
Rockstar Ronnie (2.05 Kempton)
Though serial runner-up Sebastopol looked to have his measure at Kempton back in November, ROCKSTAR RONNIE now meets him on 10lb better terms.
Dan Skelton’s charge was booked for second that day only for Sebastopol to fluff his lines and come down at the last. There were about three lengths between them at the time, for which a 10lb swing should account.
His break off the course would be a slight concern, but conditions are otherwise ideal. He won’t mind the step back in trip, has won twice at the track and appreciates a quicker surface which he should certainly get at Kempton on Saturday.
Fences and front-running tactics have improved this horse and more could be to come.
Saint Palais (2.25 Uttoxeter)
SAINT PALAIS could not live with Ahoy Senor last time, but that horse went on to be second in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday.
That rival’s bold, galloping stride unnerved this five-year-old’s jumping as he got into no rhythm, making particular mistakes on the turn for home. However, he had previously been enormously progressive and the form of his last handicap victory has worked out extraordinarily well.
The third and fourth have both won since, while the runner-up, Gericault Roque, was second in both the Classic Chase at Warwick and the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival on Tuesday. Richard Bandey’s gelding got hit with a 10lb rise, but that is more than fair on balance.
He continues to get a 4lb allowance for his age over this trip and he can make that count. He could still be a top staying chaser in the making.
Falco Blitz (2.40 Kempton)
It may be worth taking a chance on FALCO BLITZ in this open contest after Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville have enjoyed a largely successful Cheltenham week.
This horse’s last run over hurdles came at this meeting two years ago in the novice handicap final. That day, he was running off level weights with McFabulous, who has gone on to compete strongly at Graded level over the smaller obstacles since.
Yet Falco Blitz was only beaten nine lengths. His mark is now 4lb higher due to taking his form to a better level over fences, but it was not that much weaker over hurdles.
If he is able to translate some of his better recent efforts to timber, he would be in with a good chance here. His Kempton record is solid too, including a victory over fences back in January.
Boothill (3.00 Uttoxeter)
It is difficult to be confident in BOOTHILL turning up, but if he does, then he is surely well treated from a mark of 132.
He looked a very talented bumper and novice performer in 2020, but though he returned from a long layoff with an excellent third to Soaring Glory at Ascot back in October, he made a very disappointing transition to fences in December.
That forced Harry Fry to bring him back over hurdles. However, in a very competitive Betfair Hurdle, won by Champion Hurdle fifth, Glory And Fortune, he could only finish ninth in a first time tongue tie. He was not beaten that far though and a 3lb drop seems generous.
He is well worth a go up at 2m4f here and this looks a race in which he can show his best.
Manofthemountain (3.15 Kempton)
Emma Lavelle’s MANOFTHEMOUNTAIN has run in two stronger races than this so far this term and it is no issue that he has been freshened up since the autumn.
He won at Cheltenham’s April meeting last season over this trip and on the same ground. After a six-month break over the summer, he came back to be second to Paint The Dream, a two-time winner this season who was very well handicapped.
He then went for the Paddy Power Gold Cup back at Cheltenham, and though he was only eighth, he was beaten by fewer than six lengths. The form of that contest is very good and the 1lb easing in the weights is kind enough for him.
He was second in this race a year ago, admittedly off 8lb lower, but he may well have taken his form to the next level based on his autumnal runs.
Gwencily Berbas (3.35 Uttoxeter)
Last year’s winner Time To Get Up may take some beating off only 4lb higher, but it might take more getting than last season.
That might sound strange to say given the race is run over 4m2f and it obviously requires a sturdy stayer anyway. However, on softer ground, this may suit a horse who gets better the further they go. GWENCILY BERBAS may be that horse.
He won a 3m6½f handicap at Exeter in December and though he has not always excellened when underfoot conditions are too testing, he has won on soft in the past. Similarly, it was probably too sharp a trip (three miles) that undid him instead of the heavy ground at Sandown next time out.
At Newcastle, in the Eider Chase, he would likely have been fourth but for making a mistake at the last and he was staying on best of anything. He may be 5lb out the handicap and this is a speculative suggestion, but he could be massively overpriced.