At £45,000 this is only the second most valuable race on Kempton’s Saturday card after the fascinating Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase, however as a very competitive handicap it remains the big betting race of the day for sure.
We’ve used what tools we have available to narrow this race down to a six-horse shortlist, with the selection looking very fair value for money indeed.
Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old should be fit after having had a spin over fences in December, though that ended badly for him when he fell four from home at Ludlow. The last time this horse was seen over hurdles he was favourite to land the odds over this course and distance, with only the softening ground most probably getting him beaten that day.
It’s to be a little better this weekend with good weather forecast, so with natural progression expected from another good course and distance display last February when Burrows Edge was second in a handicap, this chap must go very close in what is admittedly a tight-looking handicap hurdle.
Bang in form having won last time out at Hereford, Venetia Williams’ gelding has to make the shortlist but it must be said that his best runs to date have come over three miles plus and/or on softer ground, meaning this race could ultimately take him off his feet somewhat.
If for whatever reason this race becomes a war of attrition then Burrows Park could very much come into his own over this trip, otherwise others are preferred for win purposes.
Philip Hobbs’ runner has never finished outside of the first two in hurdle races in six goes, so again even his headline means he has to make the list.
A big run could indeed be on the cards once more, however a closer look at his profile reveals him to be a horse who has excelled more when the ground has softened significantly, so again the drying underfoot conditions at Kempton may not play totally to his strengths and he is ultimately passed over.
Having finally broken his hurdling duck at the seventh attempt recently, Dan Skelton’s runner comes into the equation here but as is the case with so many of the leading fancies for this race, there are some obvious negatives about him.
His maiden win came on very soft ground and over a shorter distance, while since reaching a reasonable level at Warwick last February Northofthewall hasn’t really progressed a whole lot so while his confidence may have taken a boost now, this is a higher quality and more competitive race than he’s used to in which to prove he’s the real deal.
Set to go off at quite a short price having been the money horse for this race all week, Olly Murphy trains this one for JP McManus and the visual impression he made when powering clear of his field to score at Aintree in December is what has put him in this position.
While it’s true that was a good performance and this track, trip and ground should be absolutely perfect for him, he has gone up 8lbs in the handicap and so it may now be that in this line-up he needs to be around 10-12lbs better than last time for that not to affect him, which has to lead to some doubt at these odds.
Probably overpriced given his overall consistency when hurdling, Tim Vaughan’s six-year-old always seems to run his race but hasn’t progressed a whole lot since his maiden win 14 months ago.
His best performances, certainly from a speed angle which isn’t surprising, have been on good ground and we could be getting close to those conditions at Kempton which is what brings this horse into contention. Should he improve now for going over this trip, he could be very dangerous indeed.
Taking all the variables into consideration, we found things to be extremely tight in this race between Northofthewall, Tight Call and Larkbarrow Lad to name just three but it’s hoped that they are all left fighting for place money at the business end of this race.
The one who might just be a pound or two better than that trio is Nicky Henderson’s BURROWS EDGE and at prices of around 7/1 overnight, he’s worth chancing in this race.