Triple Champion Hurdle winning jockey Steve Smith Eccles previews the action.
A big well done to all the Kempton staff who have done an amazing job to keep racing on today in this weather, so I felt I ought to look through their card in honour of that achievement.
The opener at 12.40 is a wide open handicap for Conditional Jockeys and not one I have a strong opinion on so I move on to the 1.10 where ANDYTOWN is the new favourite after the late withdrawal of Turkish Surprise. He has won over hurdles at Cheltenham back in November and has jumping experience from point to points in Ireland, though I do wonder if his fencing is up to scratch and it is interesting to see Marcus Foley rides and not Barry Geraghty, even though he is in action later on the card for the same yard.
At 1.40 it looks like Pause and Clause will start a hot favourite after chasing home the classy Mad Max at Newbury last time out, but I have head a whisper for the Nicky Henderson trained THE SHOE who is making his British debut. Formerly trained in New Zealand where he won three races on the flat and one over hurdles, he jumps well at home and has been showing up nicely on the gallops and at a price could be worth a small bet today.
The 2.15 is a tricky little contest and too tough for me to call while at 2.50 all eyes will be on the returning DENMAN who has his first run since winning the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last March. His training problems have been well documented hence his belated reappearance but his trainer states he is as fit and healthy as he can get him and he should be good enough if fit enough.
Venetia Williams has done really well with PRETTY STAR this season and he won comfortably enough at Ludlow on soft ground last time out to suggest he sets the standard for his in form yard and he has one of the best young claimers around in Aiden Coleman who takes a valuable three pounds off his back today which must only increase his chances.
Sadly, we end with a very trappy bumper where I have no real opinions and all I can suggest is you keep a careful eye on the betting market as that is usually a good guide in this sort of contest.
My recommended bet for the day would be TARTAK in the 3.25 at Kempton. This six year old has taken to chasing well this year, winning two novices at Newton Abbot and Huntingdon in similar conditions to today and has being placed behind some cracking opposition, notably Calgary Bay at Cheltenham and Will Be Done at Haydock three weeks ago. He faces slightly less challenging opposition today and should run a big race for his in form stable here and will take all then beating.
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