Fanzio to appreciate the step back up in trip
Last weekend was certainly a challenge betting wise, and this Saturday is very similar. Fortunately, we have two highly competitive and likeable contests in the form of the Lanzarote Hurdle and the Classic Chase. I'm sighting both of those races for a bet as well as another Kempton handicap to round off my Saturday selections.
We begin with a 0-140 Handicap Chase at Kempton over 2m4f100y at 13:42 which is certainly a trappy contest with just seven runners.
A common theme this weekend is a lack of runners despite boosted prize money in some of the races which hasn't made a difference to field sizes. However, there's one runner in this race worthy of a bet at 6.05/1, that being Fanzio.
Richard Hobson has enjoyed a good run of form this past fortnight with two winners and others running well. Now, Fanzio looks likely to go under the radar in this contest due to the flashy profiles of the two last time out winners, Champagne Court and Kap Auteuil currently heading the betting.
However, it's Fanzio who just about edges the trends for this race. We have only had five renewals of this race so the stats do have to be assessed in that contest however, they firstly suggest that a mark in the mid-130s is optimal. The horse is aged between six and eight, has already had at least two runs in the season and the latest start was three weeks ago. Interestingly the horse didn't have to run well last time out but racing prominently appears to be key.
We know the frontrunning pace bias at Kempton is significant at the best of times but that is certainly a prevalent trend in this 2m4f110y chase.
Fanzio is a seven-year-old, rated 136 who has had two starts this season and has had a month to freshen up since his latest outing.
He ran off a career high mark on his reappearance start at Cheltenham where he ran accordingly to the market and finished last of those who completed. He was tailed off in that Class 2 Handicap Chase behind Editeur Du Gite but finished alongside the reopposing Kap Auteuil.
Both horses fared very differently in the race itself, Kap Auteuil was flat out throughout the race and never looked happy being ridden from off the pace. Fanzio however, was more than able to hold his own up amongst the relentless pace set by eventual winner, Editeur Du Gite.
Fanzio didn't miss a beat jumping until the tricky third last fence at the base of the hill before the swing into the home straight. He was really found out at that fence by the injection of pace and hit it with a momentum stopping error. That paid to his chances and he looked to blow up after that mistake.
Doncaster was much more like it from Fanzio last time out when second again over two miles. Strangely, he looked to be more outpaced at Doncaster in a race of changing complexion where he ended up in rear once the pace lifted with half a circuit to run. Yet he continued to jump neatly and accurately and as soon as the pace setters dropped away, all Fanzio did was stay on.
His jumping is accurate yet because of how careful he is, he loses ground at his fences over two miles and this step back up in trip looks sure to suit him.
His penultimate success came over 2m3f at Stratford, and 2m4f prior to that. He remains on a feasible mark and hopefully, his solid jumping over this trip will see him back in the winners' enclosure.
Chance the outsider of the field in the Lanzarote
It's a much more likeable betting heat in our next race in the form of the Listed Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle over 2m5f at 14:40. .
Of course, I completely understand the credentials of Marie's Rock in this year's renewal as she bids to gain back-to-back course and distance wins and should have the race run to suit. However, there is a far bigger priced horse in the race who I want to keep on side.
That horse is the outsider of the entire field in Carys' Commodity who is available at 51.050/1 for the Jonjo O'Neill yard.
We know this race can throw up a shock winner and we only have to go back to last year to see that with Boreham Bill winning at 66/1. Carys' Commodity looks a bit of a shorty in comparison now. However, the trends of this race favour the rag most of all.
Age doesn't play a huge factor in the Lanzarote however, there are plenty of positives about horses aged between six and nine, significantly with seven-year-olds though. Nowadays for this race a horse rated between 125-132 is favoured with that horse having had at least one run that season. Ideally that latest start came three weeks ago and it doesn't seem to matter if the horse ran poorly on their most recent outing. Hold up performers also have a huge advantage in what is always a well-run race.
I created a shortlist of two for this race, Foster'sisland and Carys' Commodity. Foster'sisland is vying for the rank outsider prize but I'm tentatively omitting him from my bets as I fear he's too lowly rated to be winning a race of this nature. He also doesn't look to have had enough of a break since his latest run.
Therefore, I'm taking a chance that Carys' Commodity is better than he's shown so far this season. I'm hoping that he's ridden with restraint here as it's difficult to know exactly what tactics will be implemented.
He's being fitted with a first-time tongue-tie to go with his usual cheekpieces. This will be the first time he's worn a tongue-tie since being given a wind operation prior to his reappearance two starts back. He fell at the last on that seasonal debut when going well on his chasing bow at Stratford.
Last time out was a much tamer effort back over hurdles at Hereford where he finished last of the eight runners. That was a Class 2 Handicap Hurdle and it simply looked a race to get his confidence back over hurdles. He jumped most of his flights big and carefully, showing the memories of his Stratford fall. He ran well for a long way in that race until the pace quickened and he was readily left behind.
He wasn't given a hard time of things once any chance had gone and off a 2lb lower mark, with the tongue-tie and that race under his belt, he looks a big player.
He remains a well handicapped horse as he won off just a 2lb lower mark in November 2020. Kempton looks likely to suit him as he's a winner around Wincanton, Fakenham and Catterick so quick tracks play to his strengths. In an ever-tricky race, I'll side with the outsider each-way with 6 places available.
Battle-hardened approach to pay dividends in the Classic Chase
The final race I'm going to take an in-depth look at is the Classic Chase which is a Grade 3 Handicap over 3m5f at 15:00 which is a race I always love. Very often we can find a Grand National angle from the outcome of this race with stamina and jumping technique under the microscope here.
We have a couple of novices at the head of the market in Gericault Roque and Corach Rambler. These two horses may well prove to be the best horses in this race however, the Classic Chase doesn't have a favourable record for novices.
To echo this point, the Classic Chase was won in 2021 by Notachance who wasn't a novice, Kimberlite Candy in 2020 who also wasn't a novice, Impulsive Star won in 2019 who technically was a novice but had been chasing the season prior, Milansbar in 2018 wasn't a novice and One For Arthur in 2017 also wasn't a novice.
So for all I like and respect those at the head of the market and believe they are better than their handicap marks, I simply have to side against them with a more exposed, battle-hardened type.
Once again, I delved into the trends of this race where I discovered that it's worth siding with a horse aged eight ideally, rated 133-140 who races prominently. Strangely enough, a positive is if a horse has only had one start that season and ran well last time out with that start coming one month ago.
These trends created a long shortlist of six runners initially, Padleyourowncanoe, Éclair Surf, Jerrysback and Chirico Vallis. However, the horse who ticked the most boxes was Chirico Vallis.
Chirico Vallis is a 21.020/1 shot with 3 places available which looks more than fair for a horse of his profile. He's had just the one start this season where he won at Chepstow in the Native River Handicap Chase.
He made all to gain that success - something you rarely see with a JP McManus horse. That instantly gave the impression that he was fancied for that race. He may have only won by a head from the staying on Kitty's Light but the front two pulled 9 ½ lengths clear of the third horse. That narrow win means that Chirico Vallis only has a 5lb rise to contend with.
He's likely to be ridden positively again here which is a big plus for the Classic Chase. For all this lad is a 10-year-old now, he has plenty of chasing experience to go with his age which is exactly what I'm looking for.
So, for all the novices look unexposed and flashy, this race does tend to go to a battle-hardened chaser with experience. That certainly applies to Chirico Vallis and at a big price, I'm hoping to see the green and gold back in the Warwick winners' enclosure.