3.40pm Kempton Tips & Betting Preview 27/12/2017

IN SUMMARY: A wide open handicap which has attracted any number of potential improvers as well as form options, but it may well be worth taking the chance on Charlie Longsdon’s MONTY’S AWARD (Each Way) here who looks potentially very well-handicapped on what we have seen so far, and better still has plenty of room for further improvement.

1 GWAFA – Not seen in over a year since a below expectations fifth to Hargam in a Class One Listed race over course and distance in October 2016. That was clearly not his true running and he drops in class to go handicapping again now, but he does have a bit to prove at present and may well do better with a run or two under his belt at this stage, though a place is still very much a possibility.

2 UNISON – Has an excellent record of six wins from thirteen starts over hurdles yet still went off at 33/1 at Huntingdon when winning over this trip in mid-November. Well-beaten since when a twenty-one length ninth of eleven at Sandown off his new rating and as he has only been dropped a pound for today, he looks as if he may still have his work cut out in this field for trainer Jeremy Scott.

3 KAYF GRACE – Clearly has her issues but plenty of ability as well with two wins from five starts in bumpers, spread out from her debut at Southwell in March 2015 to her second win at Aintree in April 2016. Made a winning debut over hurdles in December last year and may have needed it on her long-awaited return when only fifth of six at Ascot despite being sent off the 6/4 favourite. She pulled way too hard to have any chance that day but ought to settle better now and with the Henderson stable in great heart a huge run is expected again this afternoon.

4 MAQUISARD – Has his first run for trainer Gary Moore having arrived from France with one win from three starts over hurdles Pau last April and very hard to judge on that form. Enough class and speed to win on the flat since and could be an interesting addition to the Sussex stable, but a rating of 130 seems more than high enough and he may need to be dropped a few pounds before he can win in the UK or Ireland.

5 AZZERTI – Two novice hurdle wins from eight starts over obstacles for the Alan King gelding but nothing in three starts since with a twenty-six length fourth to Speredek at Exeter in a similar contest alt time out. Dropped another three pounds here which will increase his chances but he still has a bit more to find in this company, though if he bounces back to his best he is not without a chance.

6 MISTER MALARKY – Very lightly raced with just the three starts over hurdles and got off the mark last time out over course and distance when seeing off Highway One O One by a length and a quarter staying on strongly. He may improve again to take a hand, but a starting mark of 126 seems high enough for now and others look to have more to offer in a field like this.

7 DARLING MALTAIX – Just the three starts over hurdles for Paul Nicholls and ran a huge race at Taunton last time out before falling at the last when looking booked for a place. He looks more than capable of winning a race or two on that evidence but may still be better off in novice or maiden company for now, though his astute handler must feel he is well handicapped to send him here and he warrants plenty of respect here for that reason alone.

8 DEMON D’AUNOU – Bought by J P McManus after two placed efforts in France and paid back some of his price straight away with a very comfortable novice hurdle win at Market Rasen in October. Failed to repeat that at Bangor last time out when third but that was a hot contest for the track and he has plenty of room for further improvement, a fact that will no doubt be well exploited by trainer Jonjo O’Neill and his shrewd connections.

9 EDDIEMAURICE – Clearly pretty decent at his best with three wins over hurdles at Ffos Las, Worcester, and in a far better race at Ascot, but nothing in over a year now with eight losing starts. Last seen finishing fourth back at Ascot, he is handicapped to go well if only trainer John Flint can bring him back to his very best as he so now a pound lower than his last victory.

10 CHATEZ – Lightly raced over hurdles with two wins from the four starts and not seen over obstacles since pulling up at Huntingdon in February 2015. Twice raced on the flat since then, with a win at Doncaster in the Spring Mile in March 2015, and a surprise second to Fire Brigade over two years later at Leicester in October this year. Every chance at these weights of a huge run assuming he doesn’t “bounce” after a good run following such a long lay-off.

11 APACHE SONG – Still a maiden on the flat but seems to be happier over hurdles with a win at Market Rasen on her third start over obstacles and a two-length second at Hereford on her handicap bow off this rating. Room to improve further after just the four starts over hurdles since moving to the James Eustace stable but this looks a far tougher ask than her last race and she will need to find plenty more to get involved in the finish.

12 MONTY’S AWARD – Won his bumper first time out at Worcester and has run creditably since with a pair of third places at Uttoxeter this season, both over hurdles. Beaten four and a half lengths in a novice at odds-on last time out, he needs to do a bit better than that to win here, but trainer Charlie Longsdon is nobody’s fool and if he thinks he is well handicapped of a rating of 117, then it seems fair to suggest a big run is anticipated by connections. Each way material at these weights and every chance.

13 DEXCITE – Each way possibilities for the Tom George gelding who ran a race full of promise on his return from close to eighteen months off when a seven and a half-length fourth to Irish Roe at Doncaster in a similar race earlier in the month. Likely to improve for the race and potentially very well handicapped and seems likely to get involved granted a clear round under jockey James Best.

14 TEMPLIER – Running well lately albeit without success and has to carry one pound more than his allotted amount thanks to the race conditions. A solid second at Wincanton in late October was followed by a ten length third over course and distance in mid-November but that was a lesser contest and as he races off the same mark here (plus the added pound), Gary Moore’s four-year-old looks to have his work cut out despite bottom weight.

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