Not a race to have confidence in any of the runners as many find it hard to win. Shahra Haze got her head in front for the first time after nineteen attempts but is no certainty to do it again, especially on ground this testing. Mozo is very short @ 6/4 for a horse who has only won one race and never won a hurdle, even if the horse that defeated her last time has gone on to better things. Frost Dawn has never won a race so it may be worth chancing Agent Louise @ 25/1 who was third in this last year, has won three races and is well handicapped but this really is a race to avoid.
On the figures and on recent form Copain De Claise and to a lesser extent Kayf Blanco look the likeliest winners here but the market does have them covered @ 11/8 and 5/2 respectively. Copain De Claise looked like the trip stretched him at Ascot and it is understandable that Paul Nicholls drops him back to two miles here. It may be worth taking the fancied horses on with Vocaliser @ 5/1 or Deauville Dancer @ 13/2 who are both proven at two miles on sharp tracks.
Behind Time improved for the stamina test last time at Ffos Las and will enjoy this ground and connections will hope the cheekpieces help to iron out the slight jumping errors he makes. The chink in his armour may be temperament as he has only won one race where he hung left then right and neither of his relatives managed a win between them under rules, but on the figures he looks the one to beat @ 5/2. Big River, now eight years of age, clearly has not been the easiest to train and having had a heart problem at Newbury and jumping poorly at Warwick, finally got back on track when defeating Shantou Flyer at Kelso. That looks good form and he will be the chief threat if running his race. Looksnowtlikebrian may be open to more improvement but has to iron out the mistakes to be competitive in this class of race while Solighoster stays well but struggled the last time he encountered heavy ground. Another Venture just found the listed handicap he contested at Ascot last time too much but he should be happier at this level and could rate the value @ 11/2.
Harry Fry’s record with hurdlers at Kempton has to be respected and Just A Sting, having ran in three novice events enters handicap company for the first time and with improvement to come has to be on the shortlist @ 5/1. Azzerti won comfortably last time at Huntingdon and that form has been strengthened with Mr Antolini’s victory at Sandown last week. He has to be in the mix @ 11/2. Kildisart has flattered to deceive somewhat and faces a tough task off top weight and has not really progressed as expected and with Ben Pauling a little out form, is best watched. There is more to come from Graasten for Gary Moore who won easily last time while Django Django and Stick To The Plan can also improve at value prices of 12/1. Zubayr goes well at this course and is worth a second look @ 12/1 with the seven pound claim of Lorcan Murtagh aiding his chances.
Fleminport ran poorly on his only visit to Uttoxeter in November but was given a break by Jonjo O’Neill and came back winning both his starts since. He will enjoy this test and represents the potential of the race @ 4/1 but whether he has the experience and ability to win a race of this class in testing conditions remains to be seen. Applesandpierres has to be respected @ 13/2 after a couple of fair efforts, one over course and distance and this lightly raced ten year old should go well. Theligny ran right up to his best at Newbury last time and does go well after a break and though he handled heavy ground at Newbury but would prefer better conditions and this could bring him on for a tilt at an Aintree handicap. Hitherjacques Lady, fresh from a wind operation can go well in conditions she will like @ 12/1 while Cave Top @ 11/1 and Pearl Swan @ 16/1 should not be totally ruled out.
Tom George is double-handed in this and both his runners have fair chances. Brandon Hill @ 5/1 stays further than this so will want a strong pace to be seen at his best with stable jockey Adrian Heskin taking the ride while Paddy Brennan gets the leg up on Bun Doran @ 6/1 who steps back up to a trip that will suit but has no experience on a tight right-handed track like this so he has to prove he handles Kempton. Kilcrea Vale has flattered to deceive a little this season but ran a creditable second to Acting Lass and has a chance @ 6/1 while Favourito Buck’s @ 8/1 and Cobra De Mai @ 13/2 are more than capable of winning but would not want the ground too soft in what is a very open handicap.
This will be a dour test of stamina on heavy ground and it may be best to avoid those runners who have come from the Eider Chase at Newcastle as that race takes a toll on a horse. Back To The Thatch needs to bounce back from a crashing fall in that race while West Of The Edge and Hainan produced big efforts and it will be demanding a fair amount to reproduce those performances again, only three weeks since. Get On The Yeager is all about stamina and should be thereabouts @ 8/1 but has to shoulder a fair weight in eleven stone, eight pounds which could make him vulnerable. Improving Surrey National winner The Artful Cobbler has relished stepping up to long distances and can go well @ 10/1 for Henry Daly and Andrew Tinkler. The resurgent Regal Flow has been in fine form of late and it would be no surprise to see him go well @ 28/1 while Western Climate is open to improvement @ 16/1 and worth a second look.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
Hitherjacques Lady – 3.00 Uttoxeter – 1pt win @ 12/1
It is worth taking on Fleminport, an inexperienced novice in such testing conditions and in Hitherjacques Lady, we have a well handicapped and consistent type who will handle the ground. The recent wind operation could just bring about a little more improvement from her and with Oliver Sherwood’s good record with hurdlers at Uttoxeter, is a value bet @ 12/1.
The Artful Cobbler – 3.35 Uttoxeter – 1pt win @ 10/1
As alluded to in the Insight, the market leaders in this race either ran in the Eider Chase, a severe test of a thoroughbred or carry plenty of weight so it may be worth taking a punt on The Artful Cobbler @ 10/1 who enjoyed the stamina test when winning the Surrey National, is improving and shoulders very little weight.