With the weather forcing Newcastle to abandon their Eider meeting, all eyes were on Kempton this Saturday and thanks to Solo, those eyes were not disappointed. Fairly weak in the betting during the morning, Paul Nicholls latest French recruit eventually attracted enough support to see him sent off as the 6/4 favourite. Prominent throughout, his backers barely had a moments worry as he put in a foot-perfect round of jumping before powering right away from the previously unbeaten Fujimoto Flyer. Quite how strong this piece of form turns out to be is open to any amount of debate though it has to be said, rarely would one see such an impressive winner in any Grade 2. Post race the bookmakers perhaps over-reacted by slashing his odds from 14/1 into as low as 3/1 for the Triumph Hurdle. Prices to one side however, Paul Nicholls will almost certainly find plenty of improvement from his exciting Entire and his chances of winning come March, look as realistic as any.
Earlier on the Card Paul Nicholls looked to have found Master Tommytucker an ideal opportunity to bounce back from his fall here before Christmas. Typically exuberant and jumping quite beautifully he once again looked almost certain to win before disaster struck. Going forwards, Aintree could be on the agenda although these crashing falls are becoming a little inevitable, there is little doubting the horse has a serious engine but with a record of three falls from six races, he couldn't be punted with any degree of confidence until he shows a little more respect to the fences.
The first race on the card consisted of 17 runners tackling 2m5f in a rough looking handicap hurdle. Favourite backers eventually got their day off to a flyer thanks to a gutsy performance from the Nicky Henderson trained, Downtown Getatway. Breaking down the race for future purposes probably requires a crystal ball although the inexperienced Polish showed a very good attitude to claim fourth and he looks worth following given the pace and his lack of experience probably played a part in him losing a good early position (Stick Polish In Your Trackers Here). Another interesting angle to take away from this was the winning trainer and his record with horses having their 1st runs after a wind operation. Plenty of punters would question the wisdom of parting with cash until knowing how a horse will react, this does not apply to Henderson horses, his record with horses winning on their return from the op is extremely impressive and almost bordering on being worthy of risking a play 'Blind'.
The Kingwell Hurdle looked a pretty average race beforehand and any idea of the race being a Champion Hurdle trial are fanciful at best, perhaps even more so when you consider the winner isn't even entered at Cheltenham. Song For Someone in fact looked a most unlikely winner jumping the last though he knuckled down in likeable fashion to get the better of Diego Du Charmil and Ch'tibello in a stirring finish. Where or when the winner is next out hasn't been confirmed, for punting purposes you probably wouldn't fancy him following up at the minimum trip though he deserves respect over a more suitable trip and is improving. Diego Du Charmil did very little wrong and has options over both timber and fences, he looks certain to be placed advantageously again this season and is a very good horse on his day. Ch'tibello probably left his punters bald after again travelling like the best horse before appearing to hang fire, from a personal point of view I wouldn't trust him at anything other than Each Way odds as he does appear a soft type in a finish.
The last race of the Kempton card televised by ITV showed Mister Malarkey bouncing back to form after a few disappointing performances this season. Collin Tizzard admitted to not knowing what to expect although he fancied the horse would bounce back on better ground. Looking at his form you wouldn't entirely dismiss his chances in a race like the Ultima although he would have to find a little more on the face of it. Others in the race to consider going forwards are Black Corton, he rarely runs a bad race and ran on well enough under his welter burden despite not having the best run throughout the race. Adrien Du Pont ultimately disappointed and faded away late in the day after travelling like a decent horse, he hides little in terms of secrets from the handicapper though you feel he will eventually find a decent pot. Kildisart has caught my eye a few times this season, not just because he has proven bitterly disappointing in his races, more because he has appeared to be carrying plenty of condition. Today was much better from him and given the handicapper will have to relent a little more, he is a very interesting horse for the near future.
written by Chris Connolly