Play The Ace has improved with every run since November but has been on the go since the summer. He only just prevailed last time and a race of this class along with testing conditions may just find him out. Top Gamble, despite top weight, looks the one to beat @ 7/2 dropping markedly in class. Highly tried, this rates a much easier opportunity for Kerry Lee’s nine year old with Richard Johnson booked. Pressurize is an interesting runner for Venetia Williams and this course and distance winner on heavy ground must be respected @ 8/1 even though it is his first run of the season. Quite By Chance cannot be ruled out but looks in the grip of the handicapper while Templehills will enjoy conditions but is better on sharper tracks.
Shantou Rock’s form reads well with softer conditions looking a plus. He should take the beating @ 6/4 with main rival Tommy Silver unlikely to want the rain that is forecast. The Unit and Cyrname are closely matched on the figures but will need to find plenty more to challenge the favourite, the latter proven in softer conditions when running in France.
An open and competitive handicap hurdle with the improving Flemcara worth a second look. As a pointer Flemcara stayed three miles so if handling the undulations of Chepstow, has to be in the mix @ 6/1. On The Road, wearing a tongue-tie for the first time, hast to come into calculations after a good second to Sykes at Ffos Las, the form of which looks good and has to be on the shortlist @ 6/1. Dandy Duke is progressive and makes up the trio of 6/1 ‘shots’ but this is a fair step up in class and he looks the weakest of the three. Kris Spin will love conditions and should be thereabouts @ 11/1 while Court Frontier should have come on for the run at Newbury and rates another contender @ 10/1.
With Treakle Tart and Midnight Tune in the field there is likely to be a good pace around the tight turns of Kempton and that could play into the hands of those held up. Midnight Tune has an obvious chance @ 11/4 if not getting into a duel up front. Steadly improving mare Jester Jet can again go well after a good run at Cheltenham behind Arthur’s Gift while Love Destination produced a career best last time at Sandown and a repeat of that, along with Michael Heard’s claim can see her go well @ 12/1.
This looks a match between Famous Milly and Sussex Ranger. Sussex Ranger looked impressive at Sandown, winning in a good time but this will be a totally different experience for Gary Moore’s three year old and the value lies with Famous Milly. Famous Milly’s defeat of Malaya at Aintree was done on heavy ground and looks good on the figures so the 11/4 is possibly too big. Mercenaire, who’s trainer Nick Williams has won this twice in the last ten years and Look My Way, are interesting contenders but need to improve significantly to win this.
A small field lining up for this year’s Desert Orchid Chase with only two real contenders. Special Tiara will race freely out in front and if allowed too much rope, can make it three victories in this race. That said his best form is on good to soft or quicker and will be susceptible to the improving Tingle Creek winner Politologue. Special Tiara should give Politologue a good target to follow and Paul Nicholls’ six year old should make this three from three this season @ 8/15.
Beware The Bear’s jumping may not be slick but he stays and stays and this test will be right up his street. Inexperienced in terms of Nationals, this is a tougher test than the Rehearsal Chase for Nicky Henderson’s improving seven year old though this is a race for younger stayers. Only Synchronised and Native River have defied big weights in recent years so the question is posed, are Beware The Bear, impressive Haydock winner Chase The Spud, Scottish National winner Vicente and Rock The Kasbah of that ilk? It may pay to look further down the weights, Mysteree @ 12/1, second to Chase The Spud in the Midlands National will be making his seasonal debut and can go well fresh while Final Nudge fits the right profile. David Dennis’ son of Kayf Tara was still in contention when falling four out in the Midlands National and stayed on well in the Badger Ales at Wincanton. He could well be the value @ 14/1. Raz De Maree and Houblon Des Obeaux, second and third last year, are worth shortlisting for place purposes but it would take an almighty feat to win this at their veteran ages.
An open looking contest with Sir Ivan capable of winning this but does look vulnerable off top weight. After changing yards from Tom Lacey to Tom George Brandon Hill ran a good race first time out behind Walk In The Mill. A repeat or improvement on that run by this lightly raced nine year old will surely see him go close @ 7/2. Tintern Theatre follows closely in the market and can be competitive providing his jumping holds up while there is a slight doubt about BetBright Chase winner and Ladbrokes Gold Cup fifth Pilgrim’s Bay on really soft ground. The value could lie with Holly Bush Henry who jumped right when last seen over fences in April over a trip short of his best. Three miles around Kempton, where he produced his best chasing performance, can see this six year old, with Daniel Sansom aboard, go close @ 11/2.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
Top Gamble – 1.05 Chepstow – 1pt win @ 7/2
Famous Milly – 2.10 Chepstow – 1;t win @ 5/2
Holly Bush Henry – 3.05 Kempton – 1pt win @ 11/2