Saturday Horse Racing Preview & Tips – 24th February – Humphrey Bogart Set To Star

Men are such fools, but they can make a smart decision and back Nicky Henderson’s inmate in the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday – according to Seymour Biz who has picked out another 4 great selections for a Lucky 15 flutter.

We have three meetings on ITV Racing this week including for the first time this year, a visit to an all weather track. Stop moaning at the back, a winner is a winner, whether it’s on the lush grass of Ascot or the sand of Timbuktu. The all-weather meeting on Saturday is at Lingfield and there are two TV races, the Hever Sprint Stakes and the Winter Derby both sponsored by Betway. The sponsors prize money is not to be sneezed at, with the Derby purse of £100,000 and £60,000 for the winning owner, it is big enough to get the attention of non other than Ireland’s champion trainer Aiden O’Brien. He sends over Clear Skies and of course he is installed as favourite, currently around 3/1, I don’t think he will be that price on Saturday, so it would seem prudent to get on as soon as possible. The jumps meetings, for people who like their racing to be more ‘traditional’ are at Newcastle, where we have a Grand National Trial, in the form of the Eider Chase, always a thrilling encounter, and Kempton Park. The latter has three races on television, a chase and two hurdle races, one of which is for novices and one for juveniles, we can probably see some trainers sending their horses out hoping for better ground so they can get a run into them prior to the Festival. I have noticed several chasers are declared at Kempton who were withdrawn last week at Ascot, mostly due to the going, let’s hope they get the ground they want this week. And so here are my thoughts and advice for four of the TV races.

Kicking off with the 2.25 at Kempton with the Betdaq ChangingForTheBetter Adonis Juvenile Hurdle, we have a few Triumph contenders among the entries. Alan King has two declarations, Ballywood is also declared fo the 3.00, with Redicean hoping to show he is a serious contender for the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival, he has won both his races to date and Alan states this race has been his target for while, he continued that he is delighted with his preparation and he’s done lots of schooling. Well I think he needs to as his jumping is not going to make him a victor at Cheltenham. In both his races he is referred to in The Racing Post as “ not fluent”, read that as a dodgy jumper and I don’t think that fact is taken into account in his very short price for this race. There are several others to make a case for, Paul Nicholls’ Malaya has good form but is another whose jumping needs to improve, he has been off the courses since early December so perhaps Paul has been schooling him and waiting for better ground. The one I do like here is a real outsider from Sheena West’s small stable, Harmonise was very unlucky when brought down at Ascot in January but then stayed on well to win at Plumpton next time. She is also declared for the 3.00, but I think this would be a better entry for her.

Over a similar distance at 3.00 we have the SkyBet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle with the two horses previously mentioned also declared for this contest. Alan King also has Scarlet Dragon in this race, he was a high class flat horse and King has him in here to see if he is worth a tilt at the Supreme Novices, unless he has schooled magnificently, I think not. Another new recruit to the jumping game is Nicky Henderson’s Humphrey Bogart, he won a Derby trial at Lingfield and has run at Royal Ascot. Henderson has won three out of the last five runnings of this race, this horse can make it four from six. Amongst the more experienced runners is Destrier trained by Dan Skelton, two from two this season and carried 11st 10lbs to victory in the Wetherby mud last time and Mont Des Avaloirs who ran third in a very hot contest at Sandown last time but is prone to mistakes. Henderson’s top class ex-flat charge is fancied to take the contest.

The Kempton 3.35, the Betdaq Handicap Chase, a Grade 3 affair, which has several horses that were withdrawn for one reason or another last week. One of those was Gold Present who hopefully has got over his bruised foot that caused his late withdrawal from Ascot’s Swinley Chase. I take him to win this contest for the same reasons I gave last week. He needs a good run to justify his price for the Ultima at Cheltenham. Among his opponents is Master Dee, another who needs a good run to claim his place at the Festival. Tintern Theatre has a chance if he can stay on his feet, he has unshipped his rider in three out of his last six and these Kempton fences take some jumping, not like those at Ascot last week. Harry Fry’s Acting Lass is three from three this season including the Bet365 Chase in January, he can chases the selection home.

Up North at Newcastle we have the top class Grand National trial, the Betfred Eider Handicap Chase at 2.45. A gruelling test over four and a bit miles it can be contest with few finishers so we need to look at horses with experience and stamina. Last years second, Knockanrawley fits the bill but I think there is better opposition this year, and at the top of the list is Sue Smith’s Hainan, a winner over three and a half miles in November at Haydock in heavy going, he returned to the same course in January and ran third to The Dutchman staying on under pressure. Of last years runners Milansbar seems on a good mark, he was pulled up then with a muscle problem, that now seems sorted as he ran well when winning at Warwick in January, he can go close. Vinnie Lewis heads the betting but Harry Whittington’s charge does make mistakes and he can’t afford that around here. An outsider worth a mention is Back To The Thatch, although only a six year old he seems to have plenty of stamina if not experience, he won over three miles at Chepstow on heavy ground last time and Henry Daly is a very astute trainer, he could run into a place at a big price.

Saturday Lucky 15 Picks

2.25 Kempton – Harmonise
3.00 Kempton – Humphrey Bogart
3.35 Kempton – Gold Present
2.45 Newcastle – Hainan


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