Small fields at Warwick and Haydock don't make the Placepot look all that attractive, so we're going to Kempton for today's bid.
"You can only ever be so confident when faced with a 13-runner 0-55 handicap, but we do have the option of a couple of solid types here."
17:45 - We're only going to take one of current market leaders Hornboy and Kohlaan, both returning from absences. Preference is for Kohlaan, who hinted at plenty of ability on his debut (on polytrack) back in November and is bred to reveal all of it and more in time. The fitting of a hood is our sole doubt. Backup option is Green Special, who is arguably more solid: he has both race fitness and good polytrack form on his side, arguably unlucky in a Wolverhampton maiden last time that has already thrown up a couple of winners.
18:15 - As this is your usual sort of all-weather sprint handicap, in which you can rule out most (at least in terms of a Placepot perm) at a stroke, there's a chance to bank here on the progressive Spellmaker. He was second over C&D last time from a 2 lb lower mark but, crucially, is much better drawn this time and is likely to have a satisfactory pace to run at.
18:45 - Mambo Spirit, although clear on Timeform adjusted ratings, isn't one for us, his attitude still too much of a concern for all he's clearly well treated. A better option is Littlecote Lady, who has plenty of form at this track, including a win over C&D last time. Up just 2 lb for that, she can run well again. Similarly consistent of late has been the Peter Grayson-trained Rightcar, who is likely to be bearing down on the principals late on if the evidence of his recent runs. It's a style that carried him to a C&D success from a 3 lb lower mark late last month.
19:15 - With just two places up for grabs in this older-horse maiden, banking on the returning Taglietelle is too risky a play, for all his form (some in better races than this) far outstrips that of his rivals. Back him up with Pereira, who has form on the surface and over the trip to his name already and is also sure to be match fit following a run at Wolverhampton just 12 days ago.
19:45 - You can only ever be so confident when faced with a 13-runner 0-55 handicap, but we do have the option of a couple of solid types here. Firstly there's the 12-year-old Lytham, for whom this return to 11 furlongs looks overdue if anything considering the way he's been finishing his races over shorter. Without a bad race to his name so far this year, he's in. Second selection Beggars Belief perhaps wouldn't be quite as solid, but he held his form for a long time once finding it in 2012 and has made the frame on both starts with his reappearance behind him this year.
20:15 - Under different circumstances, we might have attempted to oppose likely favourite Mystical Sapphire, but the combined facts that we could do with another banker and that she's actually a fairly strong proposition on the evidence presented to date means we'll go with her and her alone in leg six. She's two from two, both runs coming over C&D, while she won a handicap similar to today's race that is working out well in January. A subsequent absence is the only question mark over Mystical Sapphire as she bids for a three-from-three start to her career.
17:45 - 8, 12
18:15 - 5
18:45 - 4, 11
19:15 - 1, 7
19:45 - 3, 5
20:15 - 1
= 16 lines
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