Race Time: 3.25pm Meeting: Kelso Distance: 2m 5f 110y Full Race Name: John Smith’s Novices’ Handicap Chase (Class 2)
Our tip for the 3.25pm Kelso live on Channel 4 is:
Naturally, there are plenty of serious contenders here despite a frankly disappointing turnout, starting with Oscar Rock (2/1) who is improving rapidly as a relatively young seven year old.
Trainer Brian Jefferson seems to have mapped this race out for the son of Oscar who won last time out at Newcastle by a length though he did idle once he hit the front that day and could thus be well handicapped as the officials can only work on what he did, not what he was capable of. However, he’s up 6lb for that win and while there may be more to come he is far from thrown in off top weight in a tricky race here with just one run of Chase experience under his belt.
With the Jonjo O’Neill yard hitting form at last I am quite taken by the chances of Oscar Fortune (5/2) who was a failure in his first few races over fences but running against better opponents before finally getting off the mark at the fourth attempt. Being beaten by the likes of Geverey Chambertin is no disgrace and although he is no superstar, he does have the heart of lion, and if he can get to the front when it matters they will not find it easy to get past him up the run in.
A false pace could give the likes of Final Assault (12/1) at the bottom of the weights but with no disrespect intended, I would prefer a more experienced jockey in those circumstances. Derek Fox does take three pounds off his back which is a bonus and he has got a 10% strike rate here which is not too bad for a claiming jockey, but not for me this afternoon.
Gallery Exhibition (4/1) did win last time out at Ludlow but also had a tough race that day and we cant be sure 23 days is enough time for him to fully recover, though trainer Kim Bailey is an expert when it comes to chasers so all things are possible, leaving the ten year old Stopped Out (4/1) as the last horse we can even mention.
Another who won last time out, this time at Market Rasen over a bit further than he faces today. He made all and had his rivals struggling from a long way out that day, and will presumably attempt the same tactics here, and with the step up on class, down in trip, and up six pounds in the weights, he must have it all to do this afternoon and seems likely to struggle to shake off these better horses quite so easily.