Epatante Looks the pick at Kempton5 min read
Impressive Elite Hurdle winner Verdana Blue is 8/1 from 12/1 for the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday. Nicky Henderson must decide if his mare will race under a penalty at the weekend, but she was mightily impressive and could even be a Champion Hurdle contender on fast ground come March.
Monday | Racing
I’m at Kempton Park this afternoon for the announcement of the five-day entries for the BetVictor Gold Cup – we are betting each way five places from noon Monday.
Nicky Henderson has a good record at this meeting – has won the opener three times in the last six years – and his Epatante (12.45) is the half-sister to several hurdle winners and makes her first start for the stable having won a Grade 1 event for APQS horses – those not listed as thoroughbreds.
Kupatana must have every chance despite top-weight on her chase debut for the Henderson team, but I am going to give another chance to Heart Of Kernot (1.15) who was in the process of running a big race when coming down three out at Hexham on his chase debut. This is a better race but the six-year-old has the potential to be better than his current mark and he is an each way alternative.
Cap Du Nord ran an eye-catching race over C&D last month, but has been raised 4lbs and it is possible that the race fell apart in front of him on that occasion.
The Sweeney (3.00) has had a wind operation since his last start when a decent third from this mark at Worcester and he is the each way recommendation in a competitive handicap hurdle over 2m 5f. If the ground turns soft – official description good on Sunday – then Coeur Blimey would enter calculations but a bigger threat may come from Dans Le Vent who finished well in a Grade 3 at Chepstow on his reappearance.
Miss Tongabezi’s record going right handed is 52111 and she can go well at a big price for Paul Webber with her third to Rene’s Girl on ground softer than ideal decent form at this level. I just favour Song Saa (3.30) who finished ahead of the Webber mare in that listed contest in South Yorkshire back in January.
Tidal Watch (4.00) ran well back on the level following a break here earlier in the month, and I think there may be more to come from Jonjo O’Neill’s four-year-old with his talented son in the plate in this conditional jockey’s contest.
Heart Of Kernot
I hope to see Clondaw Anchor (12.55) go one better than when runner up at Warwick back in the spring over an additional quarter mile. The Dan Skelton yard have not been firing on all cylinders, as they were for much of the summer, of late but they are still having their fair share of winners.
The Novice Chase and the clash between Euxton Lane, Red Rising and the unbeaten Vinndication (1.30) is the highlight of the day and a race to savour. The Kim Bailey-trained 5-y-old ended last season winning the listed Sydney Banks Hurdle at Huntingdon and has the size and scope to make his mark at a high level over the larger obstacles.
If the Novice Chase is a belter the valuable (£50k) Graduation Chase is slightly underwhelming. As long as the ground is no worse than good to soft I feel One For Billy (2.35) can put behind his unlucky run at Cheltenham last time when he would have won but for diving out to his left and through the tapes halfway up the run-in.
Dolos is dropping back in trip and a bigger danger may come from Chesterfield who suggested he would come on for his chase debut at Uttoxeter and receives weight from the other principles.
One For Billy