Kempton stages the prestigious Lanzarote Hurdle on Saturday afternoon, a Listed contest over two miles and five furlongs, and jockey Barry Geraghty appears to have decent claims of winning for the second year running.
Geraghty partners the Alan King-trained River Frost in the colours of his boss JP McManus and they are currently 11/2 to land this valuable prize.
The six-year-old has already won twice at Kempton in his seven-race hurdles career, including over this trip. He began this season with a fine fifth in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow in October and has been put away by his Barbury Castle handler ever since.
The form of that contest is working out spectacularly well, with Sam Spinner, Wholestone, Old Guard and Bags Groove all having won since. That makes River Frost an appealing proposition back at Kempton and he’s fancied to run a big race.
For those preferring a bit more juice in their price, it could be well worth weighing in behind Red Indian at 11/1. Trainer Ben Pauling earmarked this very race following Red Indian’s reappearance third at Cheltenham in November on ground much more testing than ideal.
Pauling has voiced the belief that his charge could be well-handicapped for the Lanzarote and he’s got plenty scope to improve on just his fifth outing over timber. David Bass gets on well with him and they appeal as a value alternative to River Frost.
Later on the Kempton card, it is worth having an interest in Ballyalton at odds of 9/2 in the three-mile handicap chase at 15:15.
A Cheltenham Festival winner over fences, Ballyalton has shaped with significant promise this season in two runs at Prestbury Park in competitive Grade 3 contests after coming back from a long absence with a spin over hurdles at Aintree.
This represents a drop in class for him and, with likely favourite Fountains Windfall falling in his previous two starts, he’s worth taking a chance on as he’ll surely get this three-mile journey at Kempton if anywhere at all.
Over in Ireland on Saturday, compensation should await for Mengli Khan in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown (14:10).
Gordon Elliott’s charge kicked off a scarcely believable sequence of events that resulted in Whiskey Sour winning the Future Champions at Leopardstown over Christmas when he ran out. Assuming that was an aberration (and previous form suggests it will be the case), he looks the best in this race and can oblige at 11/8.
Meanwhile, at Warwick, the 9/2 chance Flintham should give a good account in the Hampton Novices’ Chase (13:50). He was beaten soundly by the re-opposing Duel At Dawn on his reappearance at Exeter in November but does tend to need that first run before being at his best.
He’s a course winner and may improve sporting a first-time tongue tie. Nico de Boinville has been red-hot recently – 30% strike rate from 30 rides – and they are the value call in this five-runner field.
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