The action at Kempton on Saturday is well worth catching, with an intriguing Silviniaco Conti Chase supporting a cracking Lanzarote Hurdle.
Robbie Wilders from the Racing Post serves up three wagers.
Annsam @ 10/3
Pic D'Orhy @ 11/8
Petit Tonnerre @ 10/1
Any odds displayed are subject to fluctuaton.
The 3m handicap chase (1.30) that kicks off the action on ITV4 is an excellent opportunity for Annsam.
Annsam is a superior performer on a right-handed track and shaped better than the result in the old Hennessy at left-handed Newbury last time over a 3m2f trip that stretches him.
The Evan Williams-trained eight-year-old jumped to the right on a number of occasions and faded into sixth after going nicely for a long way in one of the hottest handicap chases of the season.
Annsam is 2lb lower in a much weaker race, and it always takes a run or two to put him right.
Admittedly he disappointed in this race last season, but that was off 5lb higher and he is an impressive three from four on soft ground. The stage is set for a big performance.
Pic D'Orhy is a worthy favourite in the Silviniaco Conti Chase (2.05) and he should take plenty of beating under Harry Cobden for Paul Nicholls, whose form often tails off at this time of year but that just hasn’t happened this term.
A cursory glance at Pic D'Orhy's profile suggests he is best on quicker going than is likely to present itself at Kempton.
However, all his form in France was on very soft/heavy ground and he recorded a highly respectable RPR of 154 off top weight in a Taunton handicap hurdle on heavy 23 months ago.
Pic D'Orhy has clearly improved a lot since then and produced a career-best effort from the front in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase last time, making every yard to deny smart old foe Millers Bank.
My selection is a perfect one from one over the course and distance, having again defeated Millers Bank in the Pendil here last term, and will take a serious amount of pegging back here.
The big betting race of the day is the Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40) and at the prices I’m drawn to Petit Tonnerre, who brings the right sort of profile to the race.
This tends to go to an unexposed, improving hurdler and Petit Tonnerre has shaped with real promise in two top handicaps over intermediate trips this term on ground that was probably quicker than ideal.
Petit Tonnerre is unbeaten on soft ground, tactically versatile and is clearly well thought of as he was thrown into a Grade 1 on just his second start for the Jonjo O’Neill yard.
That ultimately came too soon for Petit Tonnerre and he was pulled up, but this strong-travelling sort is almost certain to be a cut above a mark of 141.
The Lanzarote is one of the most competitive handicap hurdles outside of the major spring festivals and luck will clearly be required, but the return to a right-handed track holds no fears and he is well worth chancing.