Race Time: 3.05pm Meeting: Kempton Day: Monday 2nd November 2015
Distance: 2m 4f 110y Full Race Name: Weatherbys VAT Services Graduation Chase (Class 2)
Following on from Silviniaco Conti’s seasonal reappearance in the 2.30pm, we have another cracking race which has sadly fallen short of entries. The fixture list has ended up with lots of similar races all crammed into a very short space of just a few days so it’s no surprise but this still promises to be a cracking match up with all five having claims. Interestingly, none of the five have run over summer; the last run by any of the contenders was way back in April.
Horizontal Speed is trained by David Dennis, and we think he’s got the potential to have a big season. He’s another who could do with a confidence boost, having struggled last time out and fallen at Warwick on his penultimate start, but he has a fourth place in the Listed Novices Chase at Cheltenham Festival to his name off a mark just four pounds lower. We’re hopeful Noel Fehily will bounce him out either in front or near the pace, and it’s always a bonus to have both options in these short of small field affairs. He’s very gutsy, as he showed at Cheltenham, and will dig in all the way to the line, and he’s better suited to this trip than a number of others in the line up. He suggested back that he had a big run in him off this sort of handicap back in March and if he’s close to race fitness we think he could be one to spring a surprise at a price with a lot more value than those with higher handicap marks than him.
One of those is the well known Fingal Bay, who has always promised so much but just failed to deliver. Impressive hurdle performances back in 2011 and 2012 led into a second place behind Dynaste on his second start over fences. A number of training problems and set backs then saw him take a year and a half off the track, returning with a well fought win over hurdles. and a Listed win at Cheltenham off 142 in the Pertemps Network Final. The aim was always to get him back over fences and in February that desire led to him being well beaten at odds on. It’s impossible to know which Fingal Bay will turn up or how close to race fitness he is, especially with so many training problems, and he’s clearly not straight forward on the racetrack either – beaten at 1/12 on at Exeter back in December 2012 when running out.
The favourite, Smad Place, already holds a mark of 155, but has to give 7lb to our tip which reduces the difference compared to a handicap to 7lb. Obviously that still puts him very well in compared to a handicap but that doesn’t tell the full story. Alan King has fairly candidly stated that he won’t be given a hard time, and he’ll have bigger targets over Christmas in mind for sure. This trip is at least four furlongs too short these days, with his best performances coming over 3m 1f on Good to Soft and 3m 1.5 furlongs on Soft. Two miles four furlongs on Good ground will be a shock and we think he’s likely to find the race developing too quickly meaning he’s no back for us at 5/4, despite his class and relative consistency compared to the rest of the field.
Easter Day will be using this as a confidence booster – he didn’t look himself on his last start of last season and he suffered an unlucky fall at Cheltenham when right up there back in Janaury. The trip should be OK for him, although he prefers some more cut in the ground, and on his Ascot 2013 victory over O’Faolains Boy he’d have every chance here. He’s not shown anything like that form in his last 3 runs though and Sam Twiston-Davies will be keen to make sure he gets around to boost his confidence.
Finally, Colin Tizzard sends Kings Lad. A faller last time out at Cheltenham’s April meet when challenging, he’s a bit of an enigma. On the weights he’s the worst off in the field with a handicap mark of just 145 and the full weight of eleven stone nine pounds to carry, and he’s not run to that mark for his last four starts in a variety of field sizes. The yard obviously thinks that these conditions are his optimum based on his last few starts but he’ll have to jump better to be in with a chance here.