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13:50 Warwick The ITV racing coverage kicks off with the Hampton Novices Chase and a talented field of potential chasing stars makes for a fascinating opener. All eyes will no doubt be on David Pipe’s Champers on Ice who looks to follow up his classy chase debut. He was not error free that day, but oozed class as he cruised to an easy victory, this is tougher today, but he will have learned a lot from that first look at the larger obstacles on track. Third in the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham last year, he is clearly a horse with a lot of potential and will likely be headed to the Festival once again for a tilt at the RSA Chase following today and he very much rates the one to beat. Dangers are aplenty with a few unexposed types lining up in opposition though. Harry Fry has made his name from bringing on progressive chasers and he potentially has another one on his hands with the fragile, but talented, American. The seven year old jumped well from the front to leave his smart hurdling form well behind him to score over 3m at Exeter on his own chase debut and he will relish today’s forecast soft ground, but will need to have improved some to take on the selection. Evan Williams will be hopeful of a big run from the highly progressive Pobbles Bay after back to back chasing successes, but the gelding has gone up 21lb for those triumphs and may struggle to match some unexposed rivals unless continuing his upward curve. JP McManus owned Mystical Knight rates the main danger for trainer Rebecca Curtis having already won at this venue as well as boast four wins from its last six runs to complete what looks a highly competitive looking listed contest. CHAMPERS ON ICE (WIN) 

14:05 Kempton The historic National Hunt track his been in the news this week after the sad announcement about its closure, but an action packed and highly competitive card will soon cheer up any nostalgic punters. The first visit to the track for the ITV cameras is for the Class 1 listed chase over 2m4f. What the field lacks in numbers, it makes up for in quality as all four runners have a decent chance here. Colin Tizzard’s Quite By Chance is a decent campaigner on his day, but has a bit to find with the principles at today’s weights and would need to improve to land this. The same can be said for Neil Mulholland’s Activial who hasn’t been out of the top three in his last three outings, but again has a bit to find with the principals if they all run to form. Nicky Henderson landed this prize 12 months ago with Triolo D’Alene and he looks to have another big chance today with Vaniteux who is already a short priced favourite to keep the prize in the yard. But he will definitely not have it all his own way today and has become frustrating to follow of late with a number disappointing displays, so is easy to oppose here. Instead, the value bet lies with Paul Nicholls’ Vibrato Valtat, who was campaigned predominantly over 2m in his chasing career, but now tackles the 2m4f trip for the first time today. The horse shaped like the extra distance would be right up his street and a track like Kempton will only aide that cause. He probably has the best chasing form in the book and only has to concede 1lb to the Henderson horse so he gets the nod here. VIBRATO VALTAT (WIN)

14:25 Warwick The Pertemps Qualifier is a wide open handicap hurdle and Tom Lacey’s Lough Derg Leader is the likely and deserved favourite. The six-year-old has looked a natural under rules and in this sphere winning three of his four starts with a runner up to his name in the other. He is still lightly raced and progressive as he steps into handicap company, and while more is improvement is likely, he will probably need it against some seasoned rivals and the value may lie elsewhere. Sue Smith’s Clondaw Cian is another who is improving and may benefit for the step into handicap company, but he has to carry top weight and concede weight to some well handicapped rivals. One such horse is David Pipe’s Saint John Henry who proved his well being when romping to a six length victory when last seen two weeks ago over course and distance and a repeat of that performance will see him go close here today. The projected 9/1 for the horse coupled with yard’s recent rich form makes him the stand out each way pick. SAINT JOHN HENRY (E/W)

14:40 Kempton The Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle is a typically competitive race and this year’s renewal is no different. Paul Nicholls come in here double handed with both Modus and Old Guard, but both horses have been out of sorts of late and have questions to answer here. Modus was disappointing  in his last few outings and now steps into Class 1 company so would have to find his very best form to feature. While, Old Guard is now dropped back to a more realistic level after a frustrating time in hotter company, he now has to carry top weight back in handicaps and hopes are pinned on the step up in trip. Ex-John Ferguson horse Jaleo made a winning debut for Ben Pauling last month and could progress further, but this is his toughest task to date and he may have to settle for minor placings. Chesterfield is another who has questions to answer as he looks to recapture his previously smart form of last term. He hinted at a return to form last time when running on well at the end having been off for a lengthy break. He will come on for that run and should take a hand if staying the extra distance. He looks a solid each way. Jonjo O’Neill sends his impressive unbeaten hurdler Doesyourdogbite who further enhanced his reputation with a comprehensive win on Boxing Day and only has a 6lb rise to cope with here. He is open to all sorts of improvement and should take the beating provided the race hasn’t come too quickly. DOESYOURDOGBITE (E/W) CHESTERFIELD (E/W)

15:00 Warwick Neptune Investment Novices Hurdle is a Grade 2 contest over 2m5f and it is interesting to see Irish raider Peregrine Run take his place as he seeks a five-timer for trainer Peter Fahey and jockey Roger Loughran. The horse has progressed well and readily beat off the challenge of a next time out Grade 2 winner in Wholesome last time out and the horse is already a winner at this level so should take the beating, but he may just be vulnerable conceding weight to an unexposed rival. One such horse could be Rebecca Curtis trained Geordie Des Champs. The horse was an easy bumper winner before progressing into a smart hurdler and he hasn’t been out of the first two in three starts over timber. A narrow first defeat last time out will only have battle hardened the horse and he can get his head back in front this afternoon. Get on the Yager for the Skelton yard is another unexposed type who could take advantage should the two principals fail to fire. GEORDIE DES CHAMPS (WIN)

15:15 Kempton Phillips Hobbs sends the in-form Kruzhlinin back here to defend his title of 12 months ago. The horse is now 8lb higher, but could not be arriving in better form after an impressive win from the front in the Grade 3 Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock last time. He will not get it all his own way up front this time around however, and he may have competition for the lead from the prolific winner No Duffer. Tom George’s trusty 10-year-old shows no signs of slowing down in his old age and can take a hand here despite a further rise in the weights, but again may not get a race run to suit this time. A chance is therefore taken on one at a bigger price and Ben Pauling’s Silvergrove is more than capable of getting involved if rediscovering his best form. The return to softer ground will be right up his alley and has three victories to his name in similar conditions so he could be the one to pounce if the market principals take each other on and gets the nod as an each way alternative. SILVERGROVE (E/W)

15:35 Warwick The Grade 3 Betfred Handicap Chase over 3m5f completes the live ITV racing for Saturday and it could not be a more difficult finale. Houblon Des Obeaux was third in the Welsh Grand National and that run must give him a massive chance in this field if not feeling any effects from that slogging effort. Venetia Williams charge will relish the underfoot conditions, but was beaten some 17 lengths that day so would need to step up on that a little to take this. Spookydooky, Shotgun Paddy and Rigadin De Beauchene are another three who will relish both trip and the underfoot conditions and they could all make the frame in a highly competitive contest, but a chance is taken on Fergal O’Brien’s Viva Steve. The 9-year-old could not have been more impressive when relishing the soft ground to cruise to a comprehensive victory at Ayr on his debut for the yard. The manner of the win and the fact that the horse was not stopping towards the finish and eased down suggest there is more to come and he should go close at an each way price. Paddy Brennan rode him to victory at Ayr and is reunited again in the saddle today so yet another positive and he gets the nod. VIVA STEVE (E/W)

Written by Graeme Lafferty

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