Spot Plays for Britain and Ireland: Feb. 26
The Cheltenham Festival opens in just 17 days, and there may still be some valid prep races this weekend for the annual highlight of British jumps racing.
Kempton Park racecourse in London hosts four graded jumping races, while another two are being staged at Fairyhouse in Ireland. Below are some highlighted spot plays.
Kempton – Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (G2), 2 miles, four-year-old hurdlers
#2 Knight Salute is one of the best British prospects for the Triumph Hurdle (G1) at Cheltenham after winning all four of his hurdle starts. Most notably, he beat Saturday’s race rival #1 Impulsive One and another top British prospect in Porticello at Doncaster in the Summit Juvenile Hurdle (G2) Dec. 11.
The intriguing horse in the race is #8 Pleasant Man, who makes his hurdling debut for leading British trainer Paul Nicholls. A three-time winner on the flat – including a triumph over pre-post Triumph Hurdle favorite Pied Piper – Pleasant Man is remarkably high in some European markets for the Triumph Hurdle despite being yet to race over hurdles. He should be included in multiples at least, as should #6 Moka De Vassy, a well-beaten second to Pied Piper at Cheltenham Jan. 29.
- $10 win/$30 show: #2 Knight Salute
- $1 trifecta 2, 8 with 1, 2, 6, 8 with 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9
Kempton – Pendil Novices Chase (G2), 2 9/16 miles, novice chasers
#2 Pic D’Orhy was a well-beaten third at his most recent start behind leading Turners Novices Chase (G1) contender L’Homme Presse, but it came at a time that the Paul Nicholls stable was in a rut and they are doing better now. However, the one to catch may be #1 Minella Drama, an impressive Grade 2 winner at Haydock last start.
- $20 win: #1 Minella Drama
Kempton – Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (G2, 2 miles), novice hurdlers
#6 Shallwehaveonemore is attempting to earn himself a spot in the two-mile Supreme Novices Hurdle (G1) at Cheltenham and will probably need to win to justify a trip to Cheltenham. But watch out for #7 Iceo; he lost his unbeaten record during the Nicholls stable rut last month but should be a better chance here.
- $10 win/$30 show: #7 Iceo
Kempton – Coral Trophy Handicap Chase (G3, 3 miles), open chasers
In an extremely open race, #7 Annsam looks a very good chance. He won nicely from race rival #5 Phoenix Way at Ascot Dec. 18, yet meets that horse on three pounds better terms after Phoenix Way won at Ascot Jan. 22.
- $10 win/$40 show: #7 Annsam
Fairyhouse – Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle (G3, 2 1/16 miles), juvenile hurdlers
#4 Icare Allen disappointed a little behind his stablemate Vauban at Leopardstown Feb. 5 but faces a weaker field here. His form line is the strongest in this race and he should be hard to topple.
- $30 win: #4 Icare Allen
Fairyhouse – Bobbyjo Chase (G3, 3 3/16 miles), open chasers
Only four runners have paid up for this, but they include two of Ireland’s leading contenders for the Grand National Steeplechase (G3) at Aintree April 9 in #1 Any Second Now and #3 Burrows Saint, who were third and fourth in the big race last year. With Burrows Saint receiving eight pounds from his rival here he looks to be the best placed, and he showed his fitness when second to Gold Cup dual winner Al Boum Photo on New Year’s Day.
- $20 win: #3 Burrows Saint