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Richard Hoiles: 3 Saturday selections and 2 tracker runners

23 Feb | BY Richard Hoiles | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Hoiles: 3 Saturday selections and 2 tracker runners

The racing broadcaster has fancies from Kempton, Newcastle and Southwell, reveals his list of jockeys to watch and previews some of the day's biggest races.

It is to be hoped that the unrelenting rain does not impact the fields at Kempton too much as both their novice hurdle races have attracted decent line-ups with some really smart prospects on display as part of the ITV coverage.


In the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (13:50), French Import Kalif Du Berlais is up against the likes of smart Flat horse Peking Opera and Givemefive for breakthrough trainer Harry Derham. The latter is part-owned by golfers Brooks Keopka and Graeme McDowell, who are expected to be in attendance, and one wonders what Brooks will make of Kempton compared to the likes of Oak Hills or when he is teeing it up at Jeddah next week.

This meeting was regularly used in the past as a final prep for Cheltenham, but these days many trainers are worried about its proximity – especially on deep ground – so wait for confirmation of plans from those successful before taking any ante-post prices without the non-runner no bet safeguard.

The older novice hurdle, the Dovecote (15:00) is a wide-open affair with Lump Sum (second) and Fiercely Proud (third) looking to give a boost to Supreme-bound Jeriko Du Reponet’s seemingly only workmanlike performance when beating them at Doncaster in the Rossington Main. Idy Wood and Helnwein are also players with form on soft ground in a race where five of the eight runners are within 5lb of each other according to official marks.


If both of those races are largely ones to watch for the future, then heading the here-and-now at the track could be BOWTOGREATNESS / (Kempton, 15:37) in the Premier Handicap Chase. While everyone tends to be Cheltenham-centric at this time of year, these races are every bit as valuable as those at the Festival and should not be treated as stepping stones but opportunities in their own right.

Ben Pauling’s charge has not won for a while but has several decent performances off similar marks in the past and the yard has hit a purple patch in terms of form. The return to 3m will suit and hopefully he can improve on the stable’s already excellent February (11/37, 1.96 A/E).

Away from Kempton earlier on in the afternoon, FLOWER OF SCOTLAND / (Newcastle,14:08) can send the prize north of the border for trainer Sandy Thomson. Not seen since a below-par return at Carlisle in early November, she can hopefully bounce back to the sort of form that saw her run so well in both the Borders and Edinburgh Nationals last season.

After a very quiet start to the campaign, this is another yard who have really hit their straps in February (7/28, 1.53 A/E) with those seven winners matching the total of the previous four months combined. She handles deep ground well which is pre-requisite for any jumping bets this weekend.

On the Flat, it is a big day for Southwell as they stage their first ever Pattern race, the Winter Derby Stakes at 15:30, which features the return to action of a horse I really liked a couple of years ago in Eydon, who lines up off a massive 665-day absence. He is having his first run for trainer Andrew Balding having left Roger Varian but is a beautiful looking horse who may actually benefit from the time to develop if the injury which has kept him off the track for so long has not impacted his considerable ability. He was a non-runner for the yard last September so a watching brief is advised today, but he remains one of the most interesting horses of the entire day as regards the future.

Later in the card, RHYTHMIC INTENT / can finally take advantage of his falling mark in the 1m 4f handicap (Southwell, 16:30). Luke Catton, who made his name aboard the yard’s Quinault last summer, takes off another handy 5lb, leaving the eight-year-old off a mark well below his peak rating. Whether the fire burns so brightly these days is open to question but, at the prices, he is worth chancing.


Two in action today, the first of which is WISEACRE / who was added to the list two starts ago after making quiet late headway on his first start for trainer Des Donovan at a meeting I called at Wolverhampton in January. Wiseacre had changed hands after a Lingfield romp that saw him win by no less than 12 lengths and be raised a similar number of pounds in the process. It would be easy to assume that would be the end of his short-term prospects apart from how well the race has subsequently turned out, producing four next-time-out winners. He is worth a second look on his return to a mile coupled with a drop in grade (Southwell, 18:35).

Before that, if Chepstow survives the weather, then PRINCE QUALI / will hopefully squelch his way to success in the 2m handicap chase (Chepstow, 15:43). He won four races in France, all on soft or heavy ground, and has run two solid races for his current yard of Robert Walford. He jumped really nicely at Plumpton before being overhauled late by Alto Alto and, even though this is a higher-grade race, it means he will carry a comparatively light weight in the mud. His jumping could also prove even more of an asset at a track where getting into a good jumping rhythm can be really important.


Here’s our weekly feature highlighting jockeys riding at meetings where they have an excellent career record and should head there with confidence high.

·       Kempton – Stan Sheppard (9 wins from 36 rides, A/E 1.67 – outperforming his expected number of winners based on prices by 67 per cent)

·       Newcastle – Charlotte Jones (7/31, A/E 2.99)

·       Southwell – Robert Havlin (13/58, A/E 1.81)


Divided into the column’s three component parts, along with an overall total expressed in similar actual/expected winners terms that is used as the benchmark for angles elsewhere in the column.

·       General selections: A/E winners = 4 / 5.02, A/E ratio =0.80

·       Jockeys For Courses: A/E winners = 9/10.5, A/E ratio = 0.86

·       Stable Tracker Horses: A/E winners = 4/3.58, A/E ratio = 1.12

·       Overall totals: A/E winners = 17/19.1, A/E ratio = 0.89

Visit Betway’s horse racing betting page.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.