One of my favourite races of the season is the Lanzarote Hurdle run at Kempton this weekend over 2.5m. This year’s renewal sees sixteen (hopefully!) go to post, and there are three that take my eye as being well treated, one at the front of the market and two at bigger prices.
I’m not too keen on most of those at short prices, River Frost for JP McManus heads the market and I can see why that may be as his seasonal reappearance saw him finish a two lengths fifth at Chepstow and the form has worked out well with Sam Spinner and Wholestone finishing ahead of him. He’s gone up 3lb since as a result though and is now bang on the mark I’ve rated him for Chepstow and the Coral Cup, so I can let him go at the prices. William Henry is reverting back from a disastrous chasing adventure, as is Topofthegame who fell on his only attempt at the larger obstacles. Bags Groove has won his last two starts and gone up 12lbs to 145, which again is bang on what I’ve rated his last two runs. Le Patriote is having his first start in the UK and has been well backed but it’s hard to get involved now with so many unknowns about him. Coueur Blimey is of interest, but again has gone up to the sort of mark I’ve rated him previously.
The one I do like towards the front of the market is DIESE DES BIEFFES (145) who looks well treated off a mark of 135 on his last start on this track. He was second to If The Cap Fits that day who looks a live contender for the Supreme, and Diese Des Bieffes put up a good figure finishing second, four and a half lengths clear of the third. He comfortably beat the now 133 rated Highway One O One on his first run this season and the horse he beat on his second start, Show On The Road, won a novice hurdle by thirteen lengths at Exeter on New Year’s Day. He now steps up to 2m5f, and on the visual impression of his Kempton run that looks like it should suit fine, and most of his siblings have prospered over further than two miles, with Caid Du Berlais in the family tree. He’s by Martaline, whose top rated jumps horses include Dynaste, Disko, Agrapart and Ucello Conti, so I’m comfortable that he’ll be able to handle the step up in trip. If he can improve on his last start then a mark of 135 could be made a mockery of come the race. Mitch Bastyan is a brilliant young jockey who takes off 5lbs to boost confidence even further.
The second horse on my shortlist is WISHFULL DREAMING (133) who has his first start for Olly Murphy having moved yards from Phillip Hobbs. I was devastated when Hunters Call beat Silver Streak in the big handicap hurdle at Ascot before Christmas, and that was a case of Murphy finding masses of improvement in a horse having his first start for him. Now it’s unlikely that he’s going to be doing a drastically better job than Hobbs, but if he can find some improvement in the horse, or if he thrives in his new yard then he looks potentially well treated off a mark of 127. He won on his handicap debut at Chepstow in 2016 off a mark of 123 by five lengths, but has been unsuccessful since then. But I’ve had him running to a mark of 133 previously, and indeed he was a good fourth behind Brain Power at Sandown in December 2016. He’s been well backed on all his starts since going off 7/4, 5/2, 11/10, 3/1 and 7/2 but hasn’t been able to reward that confidence, though it suggests there is a decent engine under the bonnet. I think this may be the time to catch him fresh first time up, with his form off a long break reading 11F, with the “F” coming when leading in a handicap hurdle at Tanton won by Amour De Nuit (now rated 20lbs higher). The first time tongue tie goes on, and with Aidan Coleman booked a price of 20/1 looks worth chancing.
The final one on my list is DINO VELVET (133) who looks a wild price at 25/1. He was 5th behind the aforementioned Silver Streak at Chepstow on his seasonal reappearance, after running with credit to finish 8th in the Fred Winter (made a mistake at a crucial time), and I think he’s coming into this race a bit under the radar. He was stepped up to two and a half miles last time at Newbury, where he travelled well before flattening out a bit to finish a seven length fifth. But he reportedly had a bit of a setback in his preparation, and if he’s over that and had a smoother build up to this race I think he can outrun his odds here. On pedigree the step up to this sort of trip should suit with his mother a half-sister to listed winner Pop Art (won over 2m2f), and his one win in this country came at Sandown so there’s a chance he may be better going right-handed too. He may be better suited to a flatter track as well, with his form off a recent run away from undulating tracks since moving to King reading 122. I think there’s scope in his mark of 123 having rated him 10lbs higher than that, and I’m glad to see Wayne Hutchinson take the ride as he is very good in these big field handicap hurdles. It’s also interesting that he’s going to sweat down to a weight of 10-4 (lowest weight in last 12 months is 10-2).
Hopefully all sixteen stand their ground for the race, and if so I think these three are worth backing each way. I may even throw a few quid at the tricast just in case!