It's unfortunate to lose the Welsh Grand National over at Chepstow, where I was planning a couple of bets today. Reports are that they're rescheduling to January 6. This is the third time in eight years that the meeting has been rescheduled due to waterlogging which I suppose is just the cost of doing business given the way the rain gets into the ground at Chepstow.
However, all is not lost and I've found you four bets worth having: three from Kempton Park and one from over the Irish Sea in Leopardstown.
In the 13:55 at Kempton, I'm taking a risk on one of the outsiders, Loves Destination. She often looks slightly paceless in terms of her ability to travel and quicken. The step up to the three-mile trip therefore looks a welcome move as she's been plying her trade at the intermediate trip.
Her sectional performance last month marked her out as having scope from her current mark, particularly with Michael Heard taking off a valuable 5lbs. I'd be concerned about backing Jester Jet and Midnight Tune over this trip, and Midnight Tour looks to be harshly treated off a mark of 147, for all Kevin Dowling's 7lb claim willl help. I'd priced Loves Destination up around the 7/1 mark, so the current odds of 14.5 look a bet worth having.
While this presumably isn't the end-goal for Vaniteux, I can't help but recommend a bet on him in the now-feature race, the 14:30. I've always thought of him as an out-and-out two-miler: very speedy, but ultimately lacking the class (and jumping ability) for top class races over this trip.
A small field over the minimum trip is ideal and, whilst Politologue will be hard to beat, the smaller field isn't in his favour, and his temperament alone is enough to stop me getting involved at short-odds. I thought Vaniteux shaped quite nicely in fourth, over a trip too far, behind Top Notch last time out and, while the Pipe team tend to be "target-trainers" with a big handicap in mind, you can take a risk at 36.035/1 that he's firing on all-cylinders today.
The 15:40 looks a very competitive handicap hurdle, and you could make a case for a dozen of them. The one I've backed in the race is Mister Malarky. He took a step up on his latest start, when winning a competitive novices' hurdle over this course and distance. The sectional performance had him marked out as 130-animal, therefore a mark of 126 looks workable. The raw form of that race has been franked since too with the second, third and fourth all running well on their subsequent starts. It's entirely possible that Mister Malarky will improve again for his handicap debut and, if he does, he'll be hard to stop.
Over the Irish Sea, I think Mengli Khan is a short-priced banker in the 13:50. He's a monstrously large horse. It's a minor miracle that Hugo Palmer, who trained him on the flat, managed to get him to the racecourse as a two-year-old. However, while he doesn't have the build for a two-mile hurdler, his flat speed (he was rated 96 on that code) seems to have him allowed him to move more nimbly than his frame should allow, and he's a slick jumper to boot.
He put up an excellent sectional performance when winning a few weeks ago - I rated it circa-155 - and I backed him for the Supreme Novices' on the back of that as it was a good-way clear of what any other two mile hurdler has achieved thus far. The vibes from the Mullins camp have been positive regarding Real Steel, but he has plenty to find to with Mengli Khan on known-form who should be extremely hard to beat if repeating his form from his most recent start.