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Racing Preview of this weekend’s racing with Farringdon

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NORMALLY the racing between now and the spring festivals is rather lacklustre, but this afternoon’s action, from a punting point of view, looks a cracker with Kempton Park and Warwick leading the way.

The Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton Park (2.40) is always a devilishly difficult and competitive race to dissect and this year’s renewal is certainly no different.

Traditionally at this time of the year it is the progressive, unexposed younger horses that come to the fore in handicaps and yet older, exposed stayers have fared well in recent seasons as well. 

That makes the likes of the two top weights, Call Me Lord (hasn’t taken to chasing) and Ch’tibello (looking nicely handicapped and sure to appreciate the trip) dangerous if they run up to their best form, but this time around the younger horses could hold the key.

The lightweight mare, On Command, could still be well handicapped after two clear cut wins, but clearly needs a career best off her mark of 122 and that is entirely possible. The same applies to the likes of the hat-trick seeking Green Book, Cobblers Dream and Earth Lord.

But the two I fancy above the other 18 are CABOT CLIFFS and MONTE CRISTO (won easily over the C&D last season).

The first named may not be the best handicapped horse in the field, but has been crying out for a step up to this trip after being a huge eye-catcher at Ascot last time out, travelling well in rear before flying home after the last flight.

Monte Cristo has always looked a chaser in the making, but is still only 6lbs higher than for his win at the track last year and in turn gets the vote over the likes of Gelino Bello and Up For Parol as my back-up bet in a cracking renewal.

The Silviniaco Conti Chase at 2.05 has a small and select field of four, but with three of the runners confirmed hold-up horses there is every chance that ROUGE VIF could have his own way up front.

We then have to gauge whether he retains the majority of his old ability after a poor run in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on his seasonal debut.

The only time he has raced beyond two miles was in a Grade Two novice Hurdle at Kelso when he sauntered home.

There is little doubt in my mind that around Kempton that he will be suited by the step up in trip and I think a clear round should suffice and he appears to be much better value than the likely short-priced favourite and sometimes sloppy jumping Mister Fisher.

KITTY’S LIGHT (nb) would prefer further and on a stiffer track, but the handicapper has given him a real chance off a mark of 140 having finished a running on fourth of nine over the C&D last time out, especially as there is plenty of pace up top to pull him into the contest down the home stretch.

Finally, on the card have a second look at GRISBI DE BERSE in the two-mile handicap hurdle at 3.50. Alan King’s charge ran as if he needed the run badly on his return to the track (174-day break) when a strong travelling fourth of seven at Taunton.

If the ground dries out slightly at Wetherby, SOLO SAXOPHONE (NAP) could be the answer to this two and a half mile handicap hurdle.

After getting outpaced at the top of the straight, he finished with a real flourish last time out over the course and distance behind Earlofthecotswolds and off the same mark I strongly fancy him to hunt down and outstay the disappointing Benson and well handicapped top weight Ballyandy who is clearly nowhere near the force of old.

The step up to three miles looks mightily in the favour of the top weight FRIMEUR DE LANCRAY and he can bounce back to winning form at 3.23.

The best marker of his form off this rating came when a running on second to Scoop The Pot at Newcastle two outings back off a 2lbs lower mark.

Over at Warwick, the feature Classic Handicap Chase at 3.00 doesn’t have as much strength in depth as the Lanzarote at Kempton Park and with last year’s winner Notachance badly out of form and Corpach Rambler possibly in the pocket of the handicapper off a rating of 142, this could well go the way of GERICAULT ROQUE who should relish this test.

David Pipe’s charge comes here on the back of a cracking run when second in the Mandarin Chase at Newbury when he just got outpaced in the closing stages. He should get the extra yardage standing on his head here and looks the call at around the 4/1 mark.

The Grade Two Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at 2.25 can see VIVA LAVILLA can score a local success for the Skelton clan ahead of his likely market rival Party Business.

This son of Getaway was outpaced in the closing stages of a Grade Two at Sandown Park and a stronger end to end gallop here can see him step up with the extra yardage hugely in his favour.

Finally, have a glance at the evening card at Chelmsford where I really like the look of both EXISTENT in the six-furlong handicap at 5.45 and bottom weight RIGGSBY in the two-mile handicap at 7.15.

The first named, formerly with John Gosden, was thought good enough to run in the Coventry Stakes and Horris Hill Stakes as a two-year-old and has since been transferred to the shrewd Stuart Williams.

He had a lovely warm-up race for this over an inadequate five furlongs at Southwell and back up in trip this son of Kingman looks something to bet on here off a 2lbs lower mark.

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