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Preview 23 February 2008

3.15 Kempton - The Racing post handicap chase Grade 3 3M Good

1. Gungdu - The antepost favourite for this handicap for the champion trainer and a horse who seems to just fail to make the cut of level weights at the top of the chasing game, still seems to be progressing and could carry on improving having looked ideally suited to this trip last time at sandown where he was always holding burntoakboy in the finish. Suited to several things today he wont want the ground to dry out further then it has done as he has a action for getting his toe in and even though running with credit after being turned out in 3 weeks he does prefer a little bit more time in between his races but not enough to totally discount him. One of the classiest horses in this field he is certain to be thereabouts but he has the weights stacked against him.

Tissue Price - 7/1

2. Simon - Win in this race last year had him shortening for the grand national as he put up a brilliant performance to land this from Cornish Sett on a lower mark. Struggled with the handicapper since that day but the 2nd to Over the Creek suggests that he wouldn't be totally out on his feet but this is a better race then that and to retain his prize today he has to concede weight to some useful sorts on ground that is quicker then ideal. Fair run today will see him run in the national again and he is certain to give it his all today.

Tissue Price - 16/1

3. Le Volfoni - The 2nd string for Paul Nicholls ran a cracker to chase home Tamarinbleu at Cheltenham over shorter then this trip and was staying on last time behind Vodka Bleu after hitting a flat spot and could well improve for this extra trip on a sharp course and with the claimer knocking of the pounds on his back he could well run a big race today as he is a smart travelling bridle horse who will be suited to this kind of track. Ground could do with some cut which is the case with most in this handicap and the slight give may have him getting away with it and given the grade 2 form he has shown in the past and the interest of going over this trip he could well run a surprisingly big race.

Tissue Price - 12/1

4. Ungaro - Beaten by a smart horse last time this grade 1 novice winner of the Feltham here back in 2006 looks like he is getting back to his best and could well win this handicap today under Tom O'Brien who done nothing wrong up at Doncaster. Suited to the ground, which is a big advantage and clearly suited to the track having picked up his most catching performance here and if settling well should stay every yard of the trip and could well give the trainer another big success at this track.

Tissue Price - 6/1

5. Iron Man - Paid his way in the summer for Peter Bowen and seems very consistent around those months for the Welshman. Hard to see him being to competitive in this wide open handicap and has often struggled in graded handicaps in the past and from this weight looks very well held against better quality then he is use to mastering over this trip.

Tissue Price - 50/1

6. Dream Alliance - Ran a cracker behind Denman in the hennessy but was entitled to in that handicap and has since struggled to hold the form up for the gold cup hopeful. However he was set to win last time when out in front at Exeter in a fairly easy race by his standards and that unseating was costly for the horse. Is another horse in the handicap who has conditions underfoot going against him as it dries out and may struggle from this mark against the better handicapped horses in the field with seemly very little in his favour.

Tissue price - 28/1

7. Palarshan - Surprised to see this horse away from Cheltenham as he only seems to run these days and this is his first run away from that track where he finished down the field in this race behind Farmer Jack in 2005 in which he was injured afterwards. Come back well at last season festival and still retains his ability he has been in good form of late with consistent runs at head quarters and could have more to come given the extra distance being tried again on ground that suits. Should be ready to go as he is best fresh and could well run a place if staying the trip well.

Tissue Price - 14/1

8. Kelami - Was swinging in behind and starting to make his move at Sandown when the Frenchman was once again put out the side door on English soil and the introduction today of Micky Fitz should help this horse especially around Kempton race track which he rides so well. Seasoned campaigner in this field but at 10yo he should still hold his best and wouldn't be a surprise to see him bounce back to his best which may be needed to win this handicap today. Has the class and always in races such as this, he has much in favour and is respected.

Tissue Price - 7/1

9. Black Hills - Seemly has paid for his consistency at a lower level and may well struggle for a while from this current mark as he needs to improve to land a race such as this and even though he could well still being going the right way at 9yo and not totally exposed on the conditions today, this looks a marker for the trainer to find out more on the horse ability and where they go from now.

Tissue Price - 33/1

10. Ardaghey - One of those horses for Nigel Twiston-Davies that is clearly talented by very hit and miss and firmly exposed these days which doesn't leave him with much chance of landing this handicap from his current handicap mark having failed to show much at the top level and with more progressive rivals in the handicap a place must be the best they can hope for with this handicapper who is consistent over this trip.

Tissue Price - 40/1

11. Wee Robbie - Can be a little one paced at times and was just outclassed in a novice event behind Silverburn latest who is a live contender for the staying novice chase at the festival in a few weeks time, so there was no disgrace in that run even though he will need to improve on it against seasoned handicappers at the top level and even though fairly weighted for today's race he needs to find more. Has had the same amount of runs as Gungdu but less over fences he has ran some big races in the past and should be thereabouts at this level of this weight. Ground suits but the biggest concern is over his stamina having shown more over shorter.

Tissue price - 9/1

12. Bagan - Put up a very impressive performance last time out at Warwick and comes here in the form of his life which is a big bonus for Charlie Mann and Noel Fehily. Only raised by 3lbs for that success he is still improving and could hold his own at graded level now he has got to grips with chasing as he has enough class for a race such as this from the current mark. However he has a few things to prove under the conditions today and the trip so can't totally be counted on but looking at his profile he shouldn't be lacking stamina and the capability to handle better ground such as this and is a dark horse for this.

Tissue price - 14/1

13. Yardbird - Finished quite some way behind Ungaro last time at Doncaster and even though he has good form around here looks a little out of his depth to be a strong player despite the receipt in weight being a bonus. Fully exposed but stays the trip well he should be running on past beaten horses but looks up against it at this level as he needs improvement but does go well for Choc Thornton.

Tissue Price - 25/1

14. Burntoakboy - Has got back to his best and looks set to be just as good over fences as he was over hurdles. Stays this trip well on what we saw last time when closing up on gungdu is receipt of weight he is likely to go well again here today getting more weight from that rival for the sandown run. However it's a different track and the hill, which he stays up well, may have assisted him and there isn't as much improvement in him as Gungdu so the turning around of form isn't clear-cut but he is in form and has a low weight.

Tissue Price - 9/1

15. Herecomesstanley - Gets in at the weights and conserved his handicap mark with a run over hurdles last time. However he looks well short at this level having won only at a low level in handicaps and this race is a massive step up in class for one of the most exposed handicappers in the field. Hard to see him having the improvement to run a big enough race to trouble the principals and has little appeal apart from having a low weight and that he stays the trip well.

Tissue Price - 28/1

Tissue Price - Ungaro 6/1, Gungdu, Kelami 7/1, Burntoakboy, Wee Robbie 9/1, Le Volfoni 12/1, Bagan, Palarshan 14/1, Simon 16/1, Yardbird 25/1, Herecomesstanley, Dream Alliance 28/1, Black Hills 33/1, Ardaghey 40/1, Iron Man 50/1.

Verdict  An open tricky looking renewal of this great handicap race. Ungaro is my market leader to go one better then at Doncaster. He has much in his favour to take all the beating. The exposed Kelami is handicapped to go well if putting up his best, while Gungdu is still shaping the right way and deserves respect from the top of the weights. Burntoakboy and Wee Robbie both deserve respect from lower in the handicap for different reasons, while the 2nd String for Paul Nicholls shouldn't be dismissed lightly in this handicap.

Selection  1 pt Ungaro  @ 6-1 (BF 7.0) & 2 pts Kelami  @ 16-1 (BF 17.0)

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