By Chris Dixon
It was a pleasure to be at Ascot for Qipco British Champions Day on Saturday on what is fast becoming one of my favourite days in the racing calendar.
The action on Sunday will not be able to live up to that standard but there’s some quality stuff over the jumps at Kempton, while I will be heading to one of my favourite tracks, Southwell, for an eight-race card on the Fibresand.
Starting with the jumps at Kempton though, and the Novices Handicap at 2.40 looks a competitive heat with a few horses of interest.
The four-year-olds Siruh Du Lac and Saint Contest are quite closely matched on hurdles form, but the first-named appeals as the more obvious type to make a chaser and should run well, but his lack of a recent run from a yard that have not had reappearance winners puts me off enough to instead side with the race-fit Bach De Clermont.
I thought he ran very well when second to the useful Flat performer Banditry at Southwell last time, attempting to give the winner 7lb and that form was given a boost when the third, Zen Master, won at Market Rasen yesterday.
A winning Pointer, Bach De Clermont appeals as the type to leave his hurdles form behind now switched to fences and as such could be well-treated off a mark of 120.
Paul Nicholls looks to hold the aces in the Matchbook VIP Hurdle (Listed) at 4.20 as he saddles the front two in the market.
I think this two-mile trip is likely to be too sharp for Old Guard and as such I am siding with San Benedeto, who progressed into a smart novice chaser last season and won the Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree.
He is back over hurdles, I suspect before returning to fences, and he may not be at his absolute peak, but the yard have had enough reappearance winners to make me think he will be well enough forward to run well and he looks to have the best 2m form on offer.
I am hardly excited by the 2-1 but it is a fair price and he will do for me on a card where I was short of strong opinions.
The reason for my visit to Southwell is to watch a couple of horses own in part line up in the 3.05 (Supersta) and 5.10 (Topamichi).
I think that both horses go there with a sound chance but I just favour Supersta.
It is the last time he runs for us before heading to the sales and I will be sad to see him go, having lived up to his name by winning seven races for us since we bought him cheaply a couple of years ago.
I am by no means saying this is a good thing, so do not get carried away in what looks a competitive race, but I do think he is worth a small bet at 6-1 to end his time with us on a high.
His tendency to miss the break could be a problem at this track, but he loved the surface when bolting up here off a 3lb lower mark in March and if he gets away on terms then on that form he has every chance on the back of some good recent work at home.
Topamichi is also going well at home and is on a good mark, but the surface is an unknown as he visits Southwell for the first time and the well-handicapped course winner Serenity Now could take a bit of beating.
The horse I like most from a punting point of view at Southwell is Ayresome Angel in the 5f handicap at 4.40 as she looks well overpriced at the early odds of 14-1.
From the in-form yard of John Mackie, Ayresome Angel looked as though the run was needed when eighth returning from a seven week break at Redcar last time. She was also drawn higher than ideal in a race that was dominated by the lower drawn horses that raced on the far side.
She has the best of the draw in stall one this afternoon and with her handicap mark in freefall and that latest form working out well, she makes plenty of appeal.
Her ability to handle this track is an unknown and she is taking on proven Fibresand performers, but there is encouragement in her pedigree that the surface will suit (sire Captain Gerrard has a strike-rate of 18% with his progeny on Fibresand) and her style of racing is well suited to this track.
Chris Dixon's Sunday tips: (Prices correct at 9.45am)
3.05 Southwell: Supersta at a generally available 6-1
4.20 Kempton: San Benedeto at a generally available 2-1
4.40 Southwell: Ayresome Angel at a generally available 14-1