Cracking Kempton

Saturday 23rd February, 3:37pm

Flegmatik  @ 9/2
Blackjack Magic @ 13/2
Forward Plan @ 13/2
Tweed Skirt @ 7/1
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*prices correct at time of writing. 

Kempton’s end of February three-mile steeplechasing feature (3-37) has a history of high quality winners, including star names of yesteryear Pendil, Desert Orchid and Gloria Victis, and although there is no runner of that sort of calibre this time, the line-up still contains talent aplenty. Previous winning-dash-good quality Kempton form has regularly been significant.

There are several that fit the horses-for-courses profile, not least Flegmatik, successful for the first time since this day in 2022 when taking advantage of a weight concession over the three-mile distance here in January.

Tweed Skirt races off an eight-pound higher weight-level than when leaving her rivals all in a twirl over course and distance at Christmas. A subsequent hurdles effort by the breeding paddocks-bound mare was more than respectable.

Despite a bravado finish, Forward Plan just – just – failed to capture the Great Yorkshire Chase, and although creeping up the weights he’s on an upward curve and ground isn’t an issue. Of late, stablemate Blackjack Magic has known how to blunder at crucial moments. Judged by a decent second when returning to chasing last time, the extra half-furlong will suit Lord Baddesley, and the stable is now thriving. Bowtogreatness has been quiet since Aintree in the spring, but the trainer/jockey combination has the Midas touch.

Il Ridito has never been three miles before, but that distance around Kempton might feel similar to the half-mile less at Cheltenham which he usually faces. Al Dancer is almost invariably solid. Killer Kane looks a definite player, especially at Kempton at this time of year, and ran last time as though wind surgery has worked. Cap Du Nord, the well-beaten favourite last year off a stone higher mark, comes from a stable definitely turning a corner.

Unanswered Prayers, another for Chris Gordon, was well behind Tweed Skirt last time, but they’ll be pleased he got around after a couple of previous mishaps.

The ex-Ballydoyle-trained Peking Opera reached a high level on the flat and won a lesser race in good style on debut for Gary Moore; receiving weight from Kalif Du Berlais in the Adonis (1-50), he’s surely interesting.

Paul Nicholls has won the Pendil Novices’ Chase (2-27) thirteen times, and many are keen on his runner, Tahmuras, a Grade One hurdles winner, but prior to last time Blow Your Wad looked pretty good, and cheekpieces are fitted.

The marathon Eider at Newcastle (2-08) will take some ‘getting’, but things can barely be too examining for The Galloping Bear, racing off the same weight level as when runner-up last year, and with a useful five-pound claim easing the burden.

In the Winter Derby, re-located to Southwell (3-20), Lord North, last year’s winner (at Lingfield) is clearly the star-turn and is rated accordingly, but there’s an absence to overcome, plus queries about the extended distance, so Military Order is understandably a popular alternative.

Almost no one can be discounted but it’s Forward Plan and Killer Kane for me.

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