There’s an interesting mix of National Hunt Racing this weekend at Warwick and Kempton. Warwick hosts its main race of the season in the form of the Classic Handicap Chase, which is supported by the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle. The Warwick card also showcases an interesting novices’ chase that could give the form-line of one of the Cheltenham Festival favourites a boost.
Kempton also stages one of its most popular handicaps of the season in the shape of the Lanzarote Hurdle. Meanwhile, the Listed 32Red Casino Chase provides an interesting clash between the 160+ rated pair of Charbel and Top Notch, two horses that may well also clash later in the season in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Rocky’s Treasure has impressed in the jumping department in winning four of his five novice chases so far and could easily put that weapon to good use around a course that often favours front-runners. However, he was a much inferior hurdler to OK Corral and he now must concede the Nicky Henderson trained horse 5lbs here.
OK Corral is nowhere near as experienced over fences, having won his only chase so far, but should relish the three-mile trip, whilst the booking of Derek O’Connor suggests connections think OK Corral may well be suited by the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Henderson also has a significant form-line on Rocky’s Treasure, who finished behind the Henderson trained RSA Chase favourite Santini at Sandown earlier this season.
McCoy Contractors 2019 Construction News Awards Finalist Hampton Novices’ Chase Free Tip:
OK Corral @ 2.88 BetVictor, Coral
The stable of Kim Bailey has been in excellent form in 2019 so far and Charbel his fancied to keep his run of good form going. He was given an excellent front-running ride by Noel Fehily last time to win the Peterborough Chase and similar tactics here could make him very hard to beat. He shouldn’t have it all his own way, as Top Notch is rated his equal on a mark of 162, but a line of form through Baron Alco just gives Charbel the edge in my book.
32Red Casino Chase Free Tip:
Charbel @ 2.62 SkyBet, SportPesa
Nicky Henderson won last year’s Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle with the unbeaten Mr Whipped and he’s trying to repeat the feat this year with Birchdale. A winner of a point-to-point before being transferred to Henderson, Birchdale made a pleasing stable debut when winning over course and distance. That run highlighted that connections have had this race in mind for him for a while, and the form of his win has worked out well with the second and third both winning next time. You are betting on potential rather than substance, but he’s also Barry Geraghty’s only booked ride on the card.
Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle Free Tip:
Birchdale @ 2.63 10Bet, SportPesa
The stable of Jane Williams (under the banner of Nick Williams) has a fantastic record in this race, having won it three times in the last eight years, and Erick Le Rouge is fancied to go close with the stable scoring with its only runner of the year so far last Saturday at Sandown. Erick Le Rouge is bidding for a four-timer, but is on a steep upward curve, and he looked to win a bit more easily than the ¾ of a length winning margin suggested last time over course and distance. Admittedly, he’s up 8lb and has more weight to carry here but this is likely to have been his main objective this season.
Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle Free Tip:
Erick Le Rouge (Each-Way) @ 9.00 SkyBet, PaddyPower – both 5 places
Six of the last eight winners of the Classic Handicap Chase have been rated 137 or less and that could be a pointer to the chances of bottom-weight Impulsive Star who is rated 133. This is also his first handicap chase and it’s interesting that he won his first handicap hurdle off a mark of 130, after which he was raised to a mark of 140. His chasing career has been unspectacular so far, but he ran a race full of promise for his chances at today’s trip of 3 miles and 5 furlongs when fading late on to finish fourth in the four-miler at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. He ran off level-weights there, finishing just over two-lengths behind Sizing Tennessee, who won this season’s Hennessey off a mark of 148. He also ran okay when beaten by OK Corral on his seasonal debut and the chance to carry a low-weight on decent ground may be ideal in his bid to win his first chase.
Classic Handicap Chase Free Tip:
Impulsive Star (Each-Way) @ 9.00 BetVictor, 10Bet, SkyBet – all 4 places