Elements ideal for McCoy and flamboyant Nacarat suits me has the measure of Gitano
Whatever angle you take on the Racing Post Chase (3.05) at Kempton, you always reach the same conclusion. Nacarat will take all the beating in a race he won with real zeal 12 months ago.
All the elements are in place for Tony McCoy to steer the flamboyant grey back into the winner's circle. Last year he dished out an eased-down, nine-length drubbing to a similar field he encounters today. And remarkably, he races off a mark just 11lb higher -- which he would almost certainly have defied 12 months ago, had he been obliged to carry it.
Doubters will advance as a negative the fact Nacarat has not won since, yet the evidence of his last run serves only to enhance his case. It came against the mighty Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase over this course and distance. And while he weakened down the straight to finish fourth, those bare bones do him no justice whatsoever.
That's because Nacarat was the only horse to make a race of it. He took it to the champion, in the process burning off some accomplished opponents with a mid-race move that swept him into a clear advantage.
It was solely because he tried to stretch Kauto Star that Madison Du Berlais was able to collar an exhausted Nacarat at the final fence.
Nacarat now has a 4lb pull with Madison Du Berlais, which thrives in small fields when he can dictate the race rhythm. And his free-running style will make life tough for late closer Fistral Beach, which represents the Paul Nicholls/Ruby Walsh alliance. With Miss Mitch a non-runner, the grey should be able to dominate en route to a repeat victory.
Indeed, despite Fistral Beach's presence, Nacarat seems sure to attract considerable pre-race support. For that reason, the best morning odds should be snaffled with haste.
SOFT TERRAIN WON'T STOP GREY SOLDIER
For the umpteenth Saturday running, the supporting card at Chepstow is under threat from the elements -- Newcastle has already been called off.
Should Chepstow's card survive, it will unfold on the sort of atrocious going that regularly denudes the form-book.
Kempton's fast-draining surface offers greater promise. The ground will be soft, but that holds no terrors for Grey Soldier in the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle (2.00). Gordon Elliott has found a good opportunity for this talented former French Flat racer, which won at the third time of asking over hurdles last time out.
River D'Or will have his supporters in the Racing & Football Outlook Handicap Hurdle (1.30), but this French import cut little ice when favourite for a similar event at Doncaster recently. A better prospect is Clova Island, which was produced soon enough when tackling this trip for the first time over the course and distance in December. Prior to that, the seven-year-old seemed sure to improve for racing beyond two miles and deserves another chance.
Conversely, Soixante should appreciate the drop back in distance in the Raceform Update Handicap Chase (4.10). Henrietta Knight's horse showed his turn was imminent when leading for much of the way over an extended three miles last time. He is worth an interest in a wide-open race.
SUITS ME HAS THE MEASURE OF GITANO
Kieren Fallon jets back from the Dubai carnival to ride Gitano Hernando at Lingfield (4.20) today, but Marco Botti's World Cup hope will have to be right on his game to overhaul Suits Me.
While Gitano Hernando has not run since October, the selection is razor-sharp at a venue where he excels.