15.00 Kempton – Mont des Avaloirs
Mont des Avaloirs is trading as a favourite for the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday, but while it’s not easy to put up a solid market leader in a real puzzle of a contest, I don’t think Paul Nicholls’s son of Blue Bresil fits the bill too well. Like most of his sire’s stock, Mont des Avaloirs has done his racing on soft and heavy ground over obstacles, and while his third in the Tolworth looks good after Kalashnikov won the Betfair Hurdle, the runner-up at Sandown had excuses, and he was badly let down by his jumping, as he had been on his hurdles debut when falling.
It may be that he will jump better on better ground, but that’s a pretty big “if”, and this contest is full of smart and speedy flat recruits who will not allow Mont des Avaloirs a soft lead.
15.05 Chepstow – Zeroeshadesofgrey
Neil King’s charge has had a wind operation since finishing second to Sakhee’s City at Catterick, and he’s always had a high level of ability, so he looks the type which punters will latch onto in this handicap hurdle. I’d not be so quick to get involved, however, and while I once thought the son of Portrait Gallery would make up into a high-class staying chaser, he’s been a disappointment since first tried over fences, and seems to have lost his appetite for winning.
He’s undeniably come back to form since fitted with blinkers on his last two starts, but he looked woefully short of pace at Catterick, and he’s now recorded nine straight defeats since winning a 4-runner race on chase debut and has become a bit of a thief to those who have kept faith in him.
15.40 Chepstow – Coeur Blimey
I suggested Coeur Blimey as a place-only bet for the Matchbook charity account the other week, so it might seem rather ungrateful to make him a lay after he rallied well for fourth in the Betfair Hurdle, but this is no game for the sentimentalist, and Sue Gardner’s talented but clumsy hurdler is ripe for taking on now trying a trip he will struggle to stay. It’s easy to put his strong finish last time down to latent stamina, but the fact is that he gave himself a chance to fill his lungs every time he backed off a hurdle at Newbury, and that allowed him to finish more strongly than those who were putting it all in throughout the contest.
He had previously looked a huge threat turning for home in the Lanzarote at Kempton, but clearly emptied after making a big effort around the outside, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he would stay a truly run three miles over hurdles.
- 15.00 Kempton – lay Mont des Avaloirs at 3.25
- 15.05 Chepstow – lay Zeroeshadesofgrey for a place at 3.9
- 15.40 Chepstow – lay Coeur Blimey at 5.0
- 15.40 Chepstow – lay Coeur Blimey for a place at 2.0