There is a lot to like about the start Barry Connell has made as a trainer. He’s been in the winners and has been a punter’s friend, and the money is often there for his horses when they go close.
He saddles BIG KING in this competitive Handicap Hurdle over 2m and, judged on his performance at Navan last time, the penny is starting to drop.
He has run over a variety of trips in his short career but bolted up when dropped back to 2m last time, and while he has been put up 11lb he looked very much ahead of his mark that day.
He’s a strong traveller and that will help him in a race of this nature.
Despite not winning this season, EMILY MOON has acquitted herself well in each of her three starts and she now finds herself well treated for this assignment.
She has largely been pitched in with the best of her own sex since her bumper days and is yet to find her perfect trip, but I think an extended 2m will be perfect.
She’s a strong travelling mare who jumps well and her rider, Paddy Kennedy, has been amongst the winners of late, too.
Jan Maat ran very well in the Grand Annual Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March and has dropped 7lb since then.
If he handles the conditions he could play a huge part with the talented Hugh Morgan, who claims 5lb, on his back.
The King George is the feature race of the day at Kempton Park and is the mid-season highlight.
This year promises another cracking race with two Paul Nicholls-trained horses heading the field. Of the two trained at Ditcheat, I’d side with Cyrname , who looked a different horse in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last month.
The preparation he has had this year is apparently very different from 2019, and if he’s ever going to win this race, this is his chance.
However, the form of that Charlie Hall Chase isn’t exceptional. He’s beaten horses who are more likely to win a Grand National than a Gold Cup, and he’s yet to do it at the top level.
So, with that in mind, I’m siding with SANTINI , who is a horse that that will do his best work at the end of the race.
He was only beaten by the narrowest of margins in the Gold Cup and the fact his connections have supplemented him should speak volumes.
I expect he’ll be ridden prominently to keep his mind active during the race and it’ll take a tough horse to stay further than he will.
The final leg is a competitive Handicap Hurdle over 2m 4f.
Despite having not won since September 2018, there has been a lot to like about the recent performances of PUSH THE TEMPO , who has the assistance of Richard Johnson in this race.
He’ll like the ground as quick as possible, so if Kempton skips the showers, he’ll love the conditions. He stays well and has run in some hotter races than this in the past.
He’s still relatively lightly-raced, and I think his mark of 127 is workable. His fourth in the Silver Trophy is very good form and if he reproduces that run he won’t be too far away.