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Monday 18 April 2016

4.30 Kempton, Tuesday, April 19

The prospect of good ground has attracted plenty of runners to Kempton on Tuesday and the Protan, Ahead of the Rest Handicap Hurdle (4.30) looks competitive enough for us to have a look for one or two likely outsiders.

The first one that catches the eye is Victor Dartnall’s 11-year-old Shammick Boy, who’s undeniably well handicapped on the form of his course and distance win last February, but, frankly, has shown so little in five starts this season that he cannot be recommended at any price. Of course, he could pop up at silly odds but, for once, we’re happy to risk having egg on our faces by writing him off.

Howaboutnever drifted alarmingly in the betting before finishing tailed off at Wincanton earlier this month, so either the good ground was too fast or somebody knew something that wasn’t apparent from his previous form, which was, in fact, highly respectable. He’s only 5lb higher in the weights than when beating subsequent Imperial Cup third Spice Fair in a veterans’ handicap hurdle, over 2 miles 4½ furlongs, at Newbury in March, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in the betting this time. His jockey, Harry Teal, simply reported that the gelding was never travelling at Wincanton, but that form was just too bad to be true.

Willem has yet to win in 11 starts for David Pipe, but the French import has gone well fresh in the past, so an absence of 146 days may not be much of a worry and the 6-year-old looks reasonably treated on the pick of his British form. Conditional jockey David Noonan doesn’t have a great strike rate for the yard, but his 5lb allowance will certainly help as will the return to faster underfoot conditions.

Selections: Kempton 4.30, Howaboutnever, Willem


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