NOT SINCE 2007 has a horse with double-figure odds won the Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40pm), tomorrow’s feature race at Kempton Park.
It’s a race that gives the bookies nightmares and I suspect a few are already tossing and turning in their sleep at the thought of KLOUD GATE extending his unbeaten run to three.
Having landed a double in December at odds of 4/6 and 1/2, the Gary Moore-trained gelding is already in the bad books with layers and they’d love to get him beat here.
The handicapper has landed the seven-year-old French recruit with a 12lb rise for his recent success at Doncaster and would probably rather not see him win again.
That hike in the weights hasn’t warded off support, though. He’s shortened right up to 10/3 from 8/1 earlier in the week and the feeling is that he still has every chance of landing a big handicap like this off his current mark.
He has plenty of useful form on the Flat, including a second to Stratum in the inaugural £100,000 JLT Cup at Newbury over the summer, and looks an improving type over hurdles.
Paul Nicholls is operating at a 30 per cent strike rate since Boxing Day and his Darling Maltaix looks the main danger.
He made eye-catching headway from the back of the field to land a competitive handicap hurdle at Ascot last time out and is still relatively unexposed at the trip.
However, with both flights of hurdles in the home straight removed that day, the strength of the form has to be a concern with him going up 12lbs in the handicap.
While my selection, Kloud Gate, is seeking a hat-trick of wins, Erick Le Rouge is after a four-timer.
Nobody can deny that he’s a highly progressive five-year-old who continues to give the handicapper a headache, but this may prove to be one step too far off 22lbs higher than when starting out at Bangor this season.
Prior to that, CHARBEL is currently the 7/4 market leader with most bookmakers for the competitive-looking Listed 32Red Chase (2.05pm), but Ladbrokes and Coral are holding out at 2/1 and that’s worth snapping up before the final field is announced later this morning.
Grade One winner Top Notch is in the mix for Nicky Henderson and is a general 2/1 chance, while Waiting Patiently is the highest rated horse in the race and is available at around 9/4.
However, the expectation is that the ground will be too quick for Waiting Patiently and he won’t appear in the final declarations, so taking the 2/1 about Charbel before that’s confirmed looks a very wise move.
Asides from the fact that the race looks set to be reduced in quality and quantity, my selection is in great form and will be well-suited by conditions.
You couldn’t help but be impressed with his eight-length demolition job in the Grade Two Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon and he has every chance of backing that up on another flat, right-handed track like Kempton.
Trainer Kim Bailey has started 2019 with five winners from 14 runners and Charbel looks a good bet to keep that run going.
Charbel 2.05pm Kempton
Kloud Gate 2.40pm Kempton