10 handicappers go to post for an intriguing handicap to finish the Kempton card on Friday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Preference is for the interesting FREE ZONE, who has won off marks much higher than this in his career and his latest two respectable efforts look to indicate another big run is coming. Jockey Adam Kirby rattled off a three timer yesterday and if back to near his best for trainer Lee Carter today, he should be hard to beat. Dangers include Pretty Bubbles who will have to overcome a 3lb rise for her latest victory at Lingfield and Calypso Choir who should be capable of better but continues to disappoint.
1 PRETTY BUBBLES – Got herself back to the winners enclosure when winning with what looked to be quite a bit in hand at Lingfield in early December (6f, Std). She is raised 3lb for that effort but it certainly doesn’t look out of reach with similar conditions today, with the inform George Baker onboard who has a record of 5-15 in the past two weeks. The trainer J R Jenkins also is in good form himself with a 25% strike rate from eight runners in the past two weeks, so has to be respected in a bid to follow up her latest win today.
2 VERY HONEST – Hasn’t been seen since August when folding very tamely at Windsor, tailing herself off (6f, Good to Firm). She has however won two races in the past including on the all weather in similar conditions to today at Lingfield in May (6f, Std), and is only 3lb higher than for her last win. A lot has to be taken on trust today but if returning to form she would have to be considered a main danger with the inform Stevie Donohoe on board, especially as she should have further improvement in her as only a 4 year old.
3 BOUCLIER – C&D winner back in March and has gone in again twice since, the latest of which when just getting up on the line at Brighton in June (5f, Good to Soft). Wasn’t at his best at Southwell on his latest start on fibresand debut which possibly presents an excuse (7f, Std), but others do seem to have more pressing claims today and he is most likely best left alone.
4 FREE ZONE – Returned to handicapping for his latest two runs and has run well in both, finishing 2nd over 5f here in November and midfield at Chelmsford a month later (6f, Std). On a mark of 81 at present with his last winning mark at 80, with that coming at Hamilton last July (6f, Good to Soft). It’s also interesting to note he’s won off a mark of 95 in the past so should be capable of much better if at his best. Adam Kirby rattled off a three timer at Wolverhampton yesterday so is bang in form and this 8 year old deserves a lot of of respect today.
5 CALYPSO CHOIR – Has run well in her last three races all at 5 furlongs, running on well here a few weeks ago but never looking as though she was going to come and win the race. As a lightly raced 4 year old further improvement should be possible but a question mark has to be raised as to whether 6 furlongs is his optimum trip, as she is yet to convince that she stays it strongly. Very Honest holds her on a previous run at Goodwood in July (6f, Good) and with the Sylvester Kirk team out of form at present (0 winners from their last 9), the percentage call is to avoid today.
6 EQUALLY FAST – Had been running consistently well in the summer which makes his last two poor efforts at Haydock (5f, Good) and Wolverhampton (6f, Std) even more baffling. he drops in class from his last run but the bigger issue is likely to be his stamina rather than the level of opposition, as although he pulled hard early, he weakened very tamely when asked for an effort. Despite being 5lb below his last winning mark, he still has a lot to prove today and others have pressing claims today.
7 ELJADDAAF – Won here at Kempton three times last year and has been running respectably this season without winning, with there being no disgrace in his latest 6th of 10 at Wolverhampton over 7f last month. Dropping back to 6 furlongs seems a sensible move as all but one of his victories have come at this distance, and conditions are fine today with a mark of 77 not looking beyond him. Dean Ivory and Robert Winston are both struggling for winners at present with both having none in the past two weeks and they’ll be hoping this 6 year old will be in the frame come the finish.
8 GOLD CLUB – Mark is slowly dropping and races off 76 today after finishing 5th at Chelmsford in December, never looking particularly dangerous throughout the race. He is however still 9lbs above his last winning mark and seems to need more help from the handicapper as his current spell suggests, as he’s struggling to get to the leader with his efforts flattening out towards the finish. Another factor to consider is that he has never won in Class 4 company, with all his wins gained in Class 5 and 6 races, which would suggest he may just be found lacking again today.
9 HIGHER COURT – Lightly raced 9 year old who switched to front running tactics when a close 2nd at Chelmsford latest (7f, Std), an improvement on all his previous efforts thus far for Emma Owen. Although a dual winner in the US, he hasn’t shown much of that spark over here and will have to fight hard to get to the lead from Stall 9, with Eddie Greatrex also struggling this season for winners on the all weather with only two on the board. Will need to show more today and is likely to find one too good today.
10 BRIDGE BUILDER – C&D winner back in April and shot clear from the front when winning well at Lingfield on his latest start, never looking in much danger. Goes up two classes today and is raised 9lb for that recent effort, which makes things much tougher today. Despite his basement weight and 25% strike rate on the all weather from 12 starts, he is likely to struggle today with all things considered.