Kempton Saturday

1:30 Virgin Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase 2m 2f

Any News hasn’t progressed as expected since making a pleasing debut over fences at Warwick in September 2021, but he was back to form when a length-and-a-quarter-third of five to Jay Jay Reilly in a novice handicap over this course and distance last month. That form is solid at this level, with Any News splitting a pair of subsequent winners.

Neil Mulholland’s charge remains on the same mark, and is fully 13lb lower than for that excellent debut effort. He was quite highly tried after Warwick, tackling Third Time Lucki at Cheltenham and then taking in a Grade 2 back at Warwick, and his confidence may have been affected by those defeats. He seems to be coming back to himself after two poor runs either side of Christmas.

2:05 Virgin Bet Handicap Hurdle 2m 5f

When Press Your Luck won this contest last year, he did so by a comfortable margin and no fewer than four of the six immediately behind him that day went on to win at the next time of asking.

Given how that form worked out, his revised mark of 138 looked very fair, and he ran well when fourth on quicker ground at Sandown in his attempt to follow up, simply finding others too quick in the conditions.

He has since switched to fences, winning at the first attempt, but he failed to complete on his next three starts, dropping down in the weights as a result.

Back to winning ways at Wincanton last time, he’s now up to 138 again, but with trainer’s son Freddie taking the ride, doesn’t look overburdened, and is taken to enhance his Chris Gordon’s excellent Kempton record.

2:40 Virgin Bet Fives Handicap Chase 2m 4f 110y

Complete Unknown lacks experience compared to his rivals in this handicap chase, but he was an impressive winner of the EBF Final over hurdles at Sandown a year and a week ago, and while beaten over three miles in the Grade 2 Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick last time, his rider allowed the smart Galia des Liteaux to get into her own rhythm in front. That proved crucial.

Prior to Warwick, Complete Unknown had made a big impression when scoring on heavy ground at Ffos Las on his chase debut, finding plenty from the final fence to run down First Lord De Cuet.

His jumping was blemish-free that day, and he looks a more assured lepper than some of his more experienced rivals here. Just 7lb higher than for Ffos Las, he remains unexposed over jumps, and the predicted rain will suit him more than most.

Uttoxeter Saturday

1:50 Your Dream Holiday With Optimum Experience Handicap Hurdle 2m 3f 207y

Hitching Jacking showed a willing attitude to win at Wetherby last time but got a fine ride from 5lb claimer Tristan Durrell and was all out at the line, so he clearly has much more to do being effectively 11lb higher here.

Rafferty’s Return could be dangerous if getting loose on the lead, but preference is for the Christian Williams-trained Limited Reserve, who has dropped to a very attractive mark after a barren period.

It’s been more than three years since his last win, but he was off for 18 months before his return to action in October. He hasn’t shown a great deal in four runs this season, but seems to have been working his way back to fitness, and did work his way to the front at Ffos Las on his latest outing only to fade from the penultimate flight.

All six of his wins have come on very soft or heavy ground, and given how deep it will ride at Uttoxeter, he is fancied to get much more competitive than has been the case.

2:25 Perfect Payroll Provider Optimum Pay Handicap Hurdle 2m 7f 70y

It could be a quick double for Christian Williams, as Lord Snootie looks progressive and figures on a workable mark, with his handicap debut effort at Warwick last time - winning by four and a quarter lengths from next-time winner Farmer’s Gamble - even better than it looked at the time.

That much-improved effort came over three and a quarter miles after the gelding had gained his mark with three runs over shorter. He drops back a couple of furlongs here, but with the ground likely to ride very deep, stamina will remain at a premium.

Farmers Gamble franked the form of the Warwick race when winning a handicap by 14 lengths on his next start, while third-placed Sporting Ace has twice been runner-up in similar races subsequently. While the winner is 11lb higher (including 1lb out of the handicap), it’s very easy to take a higher view of the form in retrospect, and he looks sure to make another bold bid in a race which should bring his abundant stamina into play.

3:00 Boulton Group Midlands Grand National Handicap Chase 4m 2f 8y

The Galloping Bear won Haydock’s Grand National Trial last year before a technical disqualification which meant the handicapper couldn’t give him a weight rise.

After a warm-up over hurdles and a fall in the Welsh National this year, he returned to form with an excellent second to Kitty’s Light in the Eider last time and although 5lb higher, he still appears to be well handicapped based on the Haydock effort. H e may well have more to offer over marathon trips.

Truckers Lodge won this back in 2020 and has finished seventh and sixth in the last two runnings in big fields. Fourth in the Welsh National this season, his mark has been slipping and he probably found Musselburgh too tight for him last time, although he still ran respectably.

Bryony Frost rides, somewhat surprisingly, for the first time and he is now exactly a stone lower than when running in last year’s race, and 6lb below his winning mark in 2020.

He clearly retains pretty much all of his ability, but lacks the speed for shorter trips. Back at this marathon trip and on hock-deep ground, he looks set for a revival.


Press Your Luck 2:05 Kempton – 1pt win @ 11/1 (general)

Complete Unknown 2:40 Kempton – 2pts win @ 9/2 (general)

Lord Snootie 2:25 Uttoxeter – 2pts win @ 6/1 (general)

Truckers Lodge 3:00 Uttoxeter – 1.5pts e/w @ 16/1 (general – 5 places)