The news that Kempton Park may be sold to housing developers certainly casts a shadow over Saturday’s renewal of the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle. Let’s all hope that the means can be found to keep this historic course open, for many more years to come.
It’s unlikely that strongly voiced opinions will be in short supply, at Kempton this weekend, but which horses do punters like the look of most of all in this 2m 5f encounter?
Jonjo O’Neill’s 5-year-old hit the ground running, with a 2-length defeat of Bubba N Squeak at Market Rasen. He still found himself friendless in the market at Hereford though and congratulations must go to any of you that backed him to win at 25/1! An 8/1 victory at this racecourse followed, on Boxing Day. Will punters shy away again, or decide that he must be worth a nibble, this time around?
Protek Des Flos
Paul Nicholls’ inmate broke into the spotlight when beating Clan Des Obeaux in the G2 Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham a year ago. Victory in a much weaker contest at Sandown followed, but it’s been largely downhill since then. Renewed hostilities with Clan Des Obeaux at Newbury in November, but tailed-off after blundering 6 from home. Has a lot to prove.
Looked back to his best when scoring at Wincanton on Boxing Day, in a strong handicap featuring the likes of Onefitzall and Buywise. Previously 5th in G3 company at Chepstow and not too far away, despite jumping without any real fluency. It does look like Paul Nicholls is making progress with this horse and he’s definitely one to follow, in this campaign.
Others attracting bets include Jaleo, Benny’s King, Sam Red, Lord Of The Island, Lisheen Prince, Kalondra, Modus and Harry Fry’s Whataknight.
Recent Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle Winners
Some very good horses have won the Lanzarote, in recent years. Saphir De Rheu landed the spoils in 2014 and has since won the Welsh Champion Hurdle, the G2 Cleeve Hurdle, the G1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase and the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase.
Nick Williams’ Tea For Two was the 2015 Champion and went on win the G1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. The likes of Southfield Royale and Native River were both well beaten and Tea For Two also finished within half-a-length of Cue Card in the G1 King George VI Chase just over a fortnight ago.
Last year’s winner was Yala Enki, a horse that hasn’t yet quite gotten to grips with graded races but still has plenty of scope for improvement. Venetia Williams’ charge gave weight to both Vieux Lille and Corin Wood, in the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase, yet still won comfortably.
This race rarely disappoints, so don’t miss it on Saturday!