Main Saturday action takes place at Kempton Park, with several races possibly having a bearing on events in Gloucestershire next month.
Centrepiece of the card, however, is the Betbright Handicap Chase at 3.35, worth over £50 big ones to the winner, which has attracted a field of 13.
Original favourite for this event was Tea For Two, now re-routed (somewhat optimistically) to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and this has, allegedly, left the race wide open at 11-2 the field.
Joint at this price are the perennial under-achiever Irish Saint and the Tom George trained winner, Double Shuffle.
This talented 7-y-o tried three miles for the first time over this course and distance at the end of December, with the addition of a hood to help it settle and the result was a bolt up, off a mark of 143. With the trainer nominating today’s race as the target and off just 6lbs higher, we need look no further for a decent each way bet at ¼ odds.
(“I’ve just worked out the headline – soft shoe shuffle, geddit?”)
The Betbright Genius Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at 1.50 will tell us whether Charlie Parcs deserves his exalted position near the head of the Triumph Hurdle market but at 4-7 this is not a betting proposition, as I wouldn’t like to take it on, either.
In similar vein, the Betbright Pendil Novices Chase at 2.25 appears at the mercy of Paul Nicholls’ 5-y-o Frodon, which is also priced up at 4-7 and, considering it’s only a 14-1 poke for the JLT, a walk in the park is a probability.
More competitive is the SkyBet Dovecote Novices Hurdle at 3.00, which has attracted the dead eight, with the first four in the betting holding entries in the Supreme Novices at the Festival. Shortest of those and favourite for this race is Capitaine, also a Nicholls runner, but with that horse and Alan King’s charge Elgin both having to give 3lbs to River Wylde, we are confident that the Henderson inmate will come out on top. A winner of its last two hurdles on unsuitably soft ground, the going at Kempers will see this horses true colours to the fore and, at 3-1 it rates a decent wager.
Over at Leafy Lingers, the Betway Winter Derby takes place at 3.15 and Mutakayyef tries to give weight to all its rivals and justify a 5-4 price tag. Trust me, it will.
As a matter of record, the 4-7, 4-7, 5-4 treble pays just over 9-2 – worth an interest?