Depending on your point of view - though most racing fans will likely be aghast at the thought of the King George VI Chase moving from its home - the news that Jockey Club Racecourses plan to close Kempton and redevelop the site for housing will probably have come as a bit of a nasty surprise. However, the venue stages a quality card on Saturday so there is at least some cheer to be had for local racegoers, though with a cold snap forecast this week, the frosty reception to Tuesday’s announcement might be replicated on the ground.
The going is currently described as good to soft, and with little rain due, genuinely good ground could be on the cards. Of those at the head of the market for the Lanzarote Hurdle, that would appear to go against Mr Mix, whose best form, including a win at Wincanton last month, has come on a softer surface. Similar comments apply to Protek des Flos, whose chasing debut at Newbury was halted by a shuddering error, and Bennys King, who has always looked more of a grinder. Bennys King is nevertheless respected, but, despite representing last year’s winning stable, is taken on, as is Lord of The Island who will appreciate the return to a longer trip but will be taking a sizeable step up in class.
Decent ground would suit the current favourite Doesyourdogbite who completed a hat-trick when winning over course and distance stepped into handicaps for the first time on Boxing Day. He had Dell’ Arca back in third there, with the much less exposed Lisheen Prince in fourth and King Cool (currently a long way out of the weights here) in a never-nearer ninth. Off just a 6 lb higher mark and, given how readily he won, there’s no obvious reason why Doesyourdogbite won’t beat those rivals again, though if top-weight Old Guard doesn’t run in this race (hasn’t tried this trip before) then the 50/1 on offer about King Cool would look a big price.
The returning pair of Sam Red, who would be having his first start for Dan Skelton, and Fountains Windfall are both considered, especially the latter who has gone well fresh before and who remains open to improvement having won a maiden at Fontwell when last seen in May. However, as a novice, he has two other entries this weekend. Preference, instead, is for Jaleo who showed fairly useful form in maidens on the Flat for Jim Bolger and has bettered that over hurdles, putting a flop in the Fred Winter (sent off 6/1 favourite) behind him when winning an eight-runner handicap at Lingfield last month on his first start for Ben Pauling. Jaleo is 7 lb higher here but looks to be back on the right track and may do better still. Another former John Ferguson charge, Chesterfield, shaped as if retaining ability when eighth to Brain Power in the Ladbroke at Ascot last time, however he has something to prove over this trip and preference is for his old stablemate.
Back Jaleo to win the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday at 10/1