Sunday Racing Tips: Back Opening Batsman to score for punters

Harry Fry trains Tony's big-price fancy Opening Batsman
Harry Fry trains Tony's big-price fancy Opening Batsman

It's not the most competitive afternoon of racing Tony Calvin has ever seen, but it's high quality and our man has found two plays for you to consider at Kempton's televised meeting...


"But he isn't badly handicapped at present, his career best effort came over course distance under today's jockey two seasons ago - Noel Fehily scraped the paint all the way that day to preserve his stamina - and the excellent Harry Fry is likely to have him spot on for this."

Back Opening Batsman at 14.013/1 in the 14:35 at Kempton

Let's be honest here. Sunday's Kempton meeting may be high on quality, but as a punting card it leaves a fair bit to be desired for those of us who like big prices.

Small fields are the order of the day and even the handicap chase on the card has attracted "only" 15 runners - and therefore only three places for each-way backers - but the 14:35 does throw up the best betting opportunity on the card in the shape of Opening Batsman at odds of 14.013/1. Small stakes, though.

Opening Batsman goes on testing ground - indeed he beat today's rival Harry's Farewell in the soft at Wincanton last February - but his chances would definitely improve if the rain stayed away, as I think 3m with plenty of dig may test his stamina to the full.

But he isn't badly handicapped at present, his career best effort came over course distance under today's jockey two seasons ago - Noel Fehily scraped the paint all the way that day to preserve his stamina - and the excellent Harry Fry is likely to have him spot on for this.

The aforementioned Harry's Farewell is 7lb higher than when winning at Newbury last time but the form has worked out pretty well, and he doesn't have many miles on the clock for an 8yo. He'd be my idea of the biggest danger to the selection.

The quality highlight on the card is obviously the Desert Orchid at 14:00 and we will see if Sprinter Sacre was as good as he looked when beating Somersby by 14 lengths at Cheltenham in November.

If he is, then I suspect that he will win this in similarly convincing fashion, but he is no bet for me at the prices. Indeed, it is arguable that Tingle Creek winner Sire De Grugy is the value call at around the 7-2 mark, but this looks a classic watching race for me.

The Grade 2 novices' chase at 13:25 is very similar to the Desert Orchid in many respects, in that if Ar Mad backs up his 10-length Sandown win - and the clock backed it up, too - then the rest may be playing for places.

But it is doubtful whether the others will let him get such an easy lead today, and in Vaniteux (and the other three are no slouches) he does meet a very impressive course and distance winner last time.

Indeed, Vaniteux heads the market at around even money with Ar Mad available at 5-2+, which surprises me.

However, for all that I was tempted, it isn't a betting race for me.

The other Channel 4 race on the card, the mares handicap hurdle at 15:10 has attracted another small field but I will be chucking a few quid at Cannon Fodder at 9.08/1 against some more unexposed types.

There isn't much to say about Cannon Fodder other than she is a dour stayer who comes here after a good ½ length second to Tambura at Plumpton last time, for which a 5lb rise was justified. Conditions look set to play to her strengths, and she was beaten only a length in this race in 2013.

In the RUK races top and tailing the card, the juvenile hurdle at 12:50 looks difficult to solve - though Paul Nicholls' Favorito Buck's does have quite a reputation - and the 15:40 is a fair more competitive contest.

I would rank Starluck as the best bet in the last, though I will stick to just the two Kempton plays on a tricky card.

With Chepstow's Welsh National abandoned due to waterlogging, Channel 4 are showing three races from Chelmsford.

I'd be lying if I said the small-field races there made any appeal whatsoever, so I am happy to give them a very wide berth.

Good luck.


Recommended Bets

Back Opening Batsman at 14.013/1 in the 14:35 at Kempton
Back Cannon Fodder at 9.08/1 in the 15:10 at Kempton

You can read Paul Nicholls views on his Sunday runners behind the link.


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