Friday 17 January 2020

Overpriced Babe carries plenty of Kempton appeal


While it's not the feature event at Kempton today, the Raceform Update Handicap Chase presents a worthwhile betting opportunity.

Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh are expected to have the favourite for the two-and-a-half-miler in the shape of Oracle Des Mottes. However, as an 11-year-old that hasn't won since November 2008, the top-weight looks opposable off the same mark that he was beaten off at Taunton last time.

Oracle Des Mottes is joined on 11st 12lb by the seven-year-old Cool Friend. A runner-up in three chases, Cool Friend will undoubtedly win more races, but this will be tough on his first run in a handicap chase. He took a handicap hurdle off 115 the last time that he ran in one, but he has it to do off a 10lb higher mark now.

Further down the card, Noun De La Thinte has been campaigned brilliantly by Venetia Williams to win five races in quick succession up to the end of January. While the French-bred has its chance, his purple patch petered out with two recent defeats, so he is passed over here.

Preferred is Babe Heffron, which initially catches the eye as the horse that reunites Jason Maguire with his former boss Tom George for the first time in over three years. There is good reason to believe the partnership can make a winning return.

Although Babe Heffron is nine, he had his first start over fences only a year ago this month, and is lightly raced with just 14 career outings. Subsequent to that chase debut when he finished third, he went on to win a pair of handicaps, latterly off 97.

On his resumption this season, Babe Heffron confirmed himself progressive by twice finishing second off a new mark of 110. Following a two-month break, he next appeared at Taunton three weeks ago, when Sam Thomas adopted Babe Heffron's customary front-running tactics.


The lack of a recent outing took its toll and he faded in the straight, with Oracle Des Mottes easily beating him to the second spot. A pound better off with that one now, Maguire's mount is one of the few in today's field that still has scope to improve. In receipt of six pounds and more from each of his nine opponents, Babe Heffron looks overpriced at around 7/1.

After Newcastle's Eider Chase fell to the weather yesterday, the Racing Post Chase is the sole major betting heat of the afternoon. With Ruby Walsh set to do 10st on Fistral Beach for Paul Nicholls, that one has a serious chance. Nonetheless, when you factor in that he is 4lbs out of the handicap, Fistral Beach is 11lbs worse off than when winning at the track last time.

Kilcrea Castle may be the one to take on side. A likeable eight-year-old, he finished second in a decent Punchestown Grade Three on his seasonal debut in October. He then gave a stone and a half to The Sawyer when third to that one on his only run since at Ascot.

With The Sawyer subsequently winning at Cheltenham and running a blinder to be third to Monet's Garden at Ascot last week, that form looks solid. Generally available at 5/1, Kilcrea Castle could be thrown in off 10st 6lb.

Earlier on the card, Salden Licht is fancied to justify favouritism in the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle. When the Alan King-trained ex-flat horse made its hurdling debut at Newbury, he showed a smart turn of foot to win going away.

He then did just enough to score under a penalty by a neck at Plumpton, but in reality he had loads left in the tank. Both of those contests have thrown up plenty of winners, and the suspicion is that Salden Licht will prove a cut above today's opponents.

One other that will take the beating at Kempton is The Nightingale. Sixth to Mikael D'Haguenet at Cheltenham last year, Ruby Walsh's mount cantered home on his chasing debut at Fontwell last month. He hasn't been over-faced this afternoon.

Best bet: Kilcrea Castle

Irish Independent

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