This 3m Handicap Chase is one of the biggest conundrums to solve this weekend. It’s very well turned out with a strong field of 15 horses declared to run, many of which can have claims made for them.
Two For Gold was out of his depth at Newbury last time out, but prior to that had risen through the ranks and this may be his level. While prone to making the odd jumping error, he’s very game and, providing the likely fast pace early on doesn’t unsettle him, he’s got the ability to go well.
Double Shuffle loves it around Kempton, being a course and distance winner, and ran another solid race in defeat at the Sunbury racecourse last month.
He has also been dropped another 2lb for that effort behind two hugely improving horses. He was once rated 166, and can go well off his latest mark of 140.
Too Shy Shy came fourth when only beaten just under four lengths by Oti Ma Boati at York in July, which is among the best form any horse in this race offers.
The winner and the second in that contest are both now rated 94, and Too Shy Shy wasn’t too far behind. She’s two from four at Lingfield, with both of her wins coming from the front, and she’s almost certainly going to be ridden that way again.
She’s won over both 7f and 1m, so there is no question regarding the trip, you just know she’ll stay very well. She also has won two races fresh from a break, so the109 days between her last run and this can only be a positive.
The rescheduled Welsh Grand National is going to be a war of attrition – a stamina-sapping battle over an extended 3m6f on heavy ground around Chepstow’s undulating course.
Only three horses have managed to carry over 11 stone in the last 10 years and two of those winners went on to win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. It’s safe to say there isn’t a horse of that calibre running in this year’s race.
Of the other winners, carrying under 11 stone was a common factor. Also, 11 out of the last 12 winners had all had at least five previous runs over fences, which leaves the current and long-time antepost favourite Secret Reprieve vulnerable, as he has had just five.
That inexperience is going to be his beating, I feel, even though he was impressive in the Welsh Grand National Trial in December.
There will be plenty of other horses with good chances, including last year’s fourth, Prime Venture . He always goes well around Chepstow and hacked up by 16 lengths at Sedgefield on his only start this season.
Bobo Mac has always shaped as though he’ll appreciate this stamina test and he ran a good race in the trial last time out. His trainer Tom Symonds has been in flying form this season, too. He’ll be switched off and played very late.
The Lanzarote Hurdle is another very well-contested race on the card at Kempton, with a field of 20 going to post. There aren’t too many races in recent memory that have seen 20 runners go to post at Kempton. It’s going to be a very tactical affair, with a suspected large distance between those making the running and those being held up and, with that said, it may pay to be ridden more handy.
One True King has been ridden from the front in his last few starts and has gained some very valuable hurdling experience. He was well thought of last year and ran a good race in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March, too.
Everglow is the likely favourite, and while he wasn’t the most impressive at Ascot last time it’s hard to forget the glowing terms his trainer Philip Hobbs has held him in.
Philip isn’t often wrong when he thinks he’s got a good one and, although he may not have come to the fore as early as expected, it might just start to click with him now. Put him off at your peril.
At a bigger price, if The Cashel Man comes back to offer anything like what he showed in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury behind Thyme Hill, then he could run a huge race.
Things haven’t gone right for him this season, but he’s slowly slipping down the handicap and it’s hard to imagine that this flat-bred horse won’t appreciate this quicker test around Kempton.