THE Racing Post Trophy over three miles at Kempton always illuminates a murky February weekend, although this year’s renewal lacks a little of its traditional lustre. That could open the door again for runaway 2009 hero NACARAT (3.05), who sees a racetrack for the first time since running fifth to Kauto Star in the King George on Boxing Day. The popular grey, third in this event last year off a 4lb higher mark and beaten only a neck in 2010, will appreciate the anticipated better ground and the free-running gelding is likely to be in the vanguard straight from flagfall.
The Betfred Eider Chase at Newcastle is one of the most gruelling races on the calendar but CAPTAIN AMERICO (3.25) is equipped to handle the 4m 1f examination better than most. James Ewart’s Borders yard remains in good form and Captain Americo, a course winner, has sound prospects of overturning Kelso form in December with Eyre Square, another solid yardstick in these staying events, on 6lb better terms.
STORMY WEATHER (2.55) needs to win here to get into the weights for the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and this dual Newcastle/Musselburgh scorer should go close under 5lb claimer Kyle James. Brian Ellison made a shrewd investment when purchasing Stormy Weather out of Howard Johnson’s now defunct yard (ran in the Graham Wylie colours) and a breathing operation seems to have made a big difference.
Earlier on a very interesting Gosforth Park card, BAR DE LIGNE (1.50) could just have the measure of probable favourite Netminder. Bar De Ligne ran out a comfortable winner at Market Rasen last month from Cross Of Honour, who later landed the odds in style at Musselburgh to give the form a quick boost.
The feature event at Lingfield is the Blue Square-sponsored Winter Derby Trial but it is a real minefield for punters. The better option may be to look elsewhere and THE HOLYMAN (4.30) fits the bill in the 1m 5f handicap on the strength of last month’s emphatic course victory over a furlong shorter. The handicapper’s subsequent 3lb rise may well prove lenient.
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