Saturday Horse Racing Preview & Tips – 22nd February – Benson Just Edges It

We have the return of all-weather racing on television this weekend with the Winter Derby at Lingfield. John Gosden has the favourite here with Dubai Warrior and Frankie Dettori takes the mount on his first appearance of the New Year, I wish them all well. ITV4 are also also showing the Eider Chase at Newcastle, a 4m1f slog through the Gosforth Park mud, but their main coverage is from Kempton Park with five races. The bulk of the Kempton offerings are juvenile and novice races but there is a decent handicap chase as part of the proceedings. Also last week’s abandoned Kingwell Hurdle from Wincanton is also going to be run here at Sunbury-on-Thames as well, with a slightly different cast from the Wincanton card. So I have looked for value from these contests and here are my thoughts for this week’s Lucky 15.

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Starting at Kempton with the 2.25, the Betway Kingwell Hurdle which is being run here at Kempton after the abandonment of Wincanton last weekend. Nicky Henderson’s Fusil Raffles looks one of the favourites here after his two wins earlier in the season, he also won on this card last year. However he was pulled up here last time out on Boxing Day when he was beaten two out and may be best watched. Paul Nicholls has a really strong hand here with Diego Du Charmil, Pic d’Orhy and Quel Destin. The latter two seem to hold the best chance having both won last time out. Quel Destin is my preference of the two as he is a course and distance winner and also goes well on soft. Henderson also has Fred in the lineup and this 5-year-old interests me immensely. He is moving up out of novice company having won his last two starts and can be placed here at a nice price. But I have the feeling these two top trainers may be trumped by Dan Skelton’s Ch’tibello who is looking to open his account for the season. He ran fifth here in the Boxing Day race when Fusil Raffles was pulled up, he would have been closer that day but unfortunately hit two out. Prior to that he ran a good third at Cheltenham and could take this on his way back to Prestbury Park after his victory in last year’s County Hurdle.

At 3.02 we have the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices Hurdle which contains some really classy young horses in the line-up. Once again the two top trainers feature highly here and Nicky Henderson has the current favourite with Buzz who is unbeaten after two starts over obstacles, but this is a major step up in class for the grey and he may find one or two too good. Tom George’s Enemy Coast Ahead is another looking to move up a grade, his first run this season was at Newbury in December where he ran a good second in a hot maiden and he can go well here. Faire Part Sivola just failed to get his head in front last time at Wincanton after previously winning at at Leicester, Nick Williams will be hoping he goes one better than his latest outing. There is also a case for Dan Skelton’s West Cork after two fine victories at Huntingdon however he is another looking to step up in class. But the most interesting horse in the lineup is Dr Richard Newland’s Benson who is only having his second run over obstacles. He has previously tasted victory in a NH Flat race but his run in a Class 1 Listed race takes the eye. That was at Sandown at the beginning of this month where he had every chance behind Quel Destin when he wandered into the second last. He looked top class and if reproducing that form and staying upright he can take this.

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The Betway Handicap Chase is at 3.35 over 3 miles. Top weight here is Black Corton from Paul Nicholls’s yard, he is a consistent handicapper but may have too much to carry here. Nicholls has a better chance with favourite Adrien Du Pont, a course and distance winner here, who ran a good fourth behind some top class horses at Ascot in December. He had old-timer Double Shuffle behind him that day and should confirm those placings. Alan King’s Talkischeap is entered here prior to being aimed at the Grand National but he is a top of the ground horse and he may find the going too soft for his liking. Henry Daly’s Whatmore is at the bottom of the handicap and he may well run into a place for the Ludlow trainer. Another near the bottom of the handicap with what I feel has a better chance is Harry Fry’s Just A Sting who won here at the Christmas meeting where he had Sametegal and Highway One O One behind him. He seems to go well in soft going and can make this step up in class to claim this prestigious prize.

Up at Newcastle at 2.45 we have the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase over 4m1f. The form horse here is Jennie Candlish’s Fortified Bay who has had a busy season to date running seven times but he has won his last two latterly here at Gosforth Park. However this is a massive step up in distance for the gelding who has never won over further than three miles. David Pipe has Hugo ‘N Taz quite low in the handicap and his victory at Market Rasen on his first run for his new trainer bodes well for the future but he is another stepping up in distance and class. Dan Skelton’s Very First Time was fourth behind him at Market Rasen after some poor jumping but has since come out and won at Doncaster, showing great improvement. Prime Venture has top weight and Evan Williams’s gelding has been running on heavy ground most of the season, his good fourth in the Welsh National was a fine run, he then jumped poorly at Haydock before finishing runner up at Exeter last time, he may have to settle for that spot again. Olly Murphy’s Calipso Collonges is my choice here after his fine run behind Lord Du Mesnil at Haydock in December. Although he is another who is untried at this distance the ground should not be a problem and Murphy had dodged other contests with his charge for him to take part here.

Saturday Lucky 15
2.25 Kempton. Ch’tibello
3.02 Kempton. Benson
3.35 Kempton. Just A Sting
2.45 Newcastle. Calipso Collonges

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Find all previous Seymour Biz racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips