Nicky Henderson’s WILLIAM HENRY didn’t make it to the starting line last week but I’m keeping faith in him to put in a big performance in the Lanzarote at Kempton tomorrow (Saturday).
As usual this 2-mile 5-furlong handicap hurdle is incredibly competitive, but the money has come from across the Irish Sea for the JP McManus-owned RIVER FROST, with Dewsbury’s leading independent bookmaker Carrigill going 9/2 at the time of writing.
The Henderson pair of WILLIAM HENRY and DIESE DES BIEFFES come next at 5 and 6/1 respectively, slightly ahead of Dr Richard Newland’s LE PATRIOTE at 13/2.
Alan King trains RIVER FROST and all three trainers are in superb form at the moment. Henderson has another three entered, but we may not have seen the best of WILLIAM HENRY over hurdles. Off a mark of 145 and priced at 5s he may be underestimated and will be happier going right handed after a disappointing flat chasing debut at Cheltenham in November.
BALLYKAN has slipped to an attractive looking mark, so could be one to keep on side in the 3-mile handicap chase at Kempton. He has decent form over this course and distance having finished 5th in the Betbright Handicap Chase last February off a mark of 140 and he’s off 134 for tomorrow’s (Saturday) race.
Warwick’s most valuable race at 3.35 can go to trainer Kerry Lee for the second time in three years with KRAKATOA KING. He has never finished out of the frame for Lee and at a best priced 9/1 is a sure fire each-way punt with the stiffer test set to play to his strengths.
In Ireland, I’m really looking forward to seeing who comes out on top in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday.
Willie Mullins has trained some smart horses to win this race over the years and GETABIRD could be hard to beat in dropping back to 2m even if he takes on MENGLI KHAN, who is on a recovery mission having run out on his last start.
As a grade 1 winner already, Gordon Elliott’s talented novice will have to give weight to GETABIRD and he needs to stay on track this time, which he didn’t do at Leopardstown over Christmas when running out through the wings with that grade 1 seemingly at his mercy.
Up-and-coming North Yorkshire trainer Philip Kirby is a man worth following.
He was quoted last weekend as saying he couldn’t wait for his TOP VILLE BEN to turn out again following his 30-length demolition of his opponents under a huge weight at Haydock Park on the last weekend of December.
The Middleham handler has given his charge two entries tomorrow at Kempton and Warwick, so stay with him wherever he goes.
• CARRIGILL’S NAP (Stake returned as a free bet if selection does not finish in the top 4): TOP VILLE BEN, Saturday, 2.45, Warwick / 2.40, Kempton Park.
• AUGUR’S BEST BET: KRAKATOA KING, Saturday, Warwick, 3.35.