Viserion chooses Kempton

January 13th, 2018 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

It was good to see Poppy Kay landing the main bet last week and I hope there will be several more to follow from the Philip Hobbs stable as we move towards the Cheltenham festival. I think the stable is over the virus now, although his novice hurdlers did not cut much ice at Huntingdon on Friday.

The big handicap hurdle at Kempton on Saturday is the Lanzarote over two miles and five furlongs – an easy enough trip at this particular course for those with genuine two and a half mile form. Nicky Henderson runs two, William Henry and Diese Des Bieffes, and uses very talented claimers in James Bowen and Mitchell Bastyan.

Diese Des Beiffes is the more inexperienced of the pair and his form is hard to assess when it comes to a competitive handicap for seasoned performers. There is probably more to come from him but I prefer William Henry, who did not enjoy himself over fences first time up but has very good hurdles form to his name, including a second to Wholestone at Cheltenham in higher grade than this last year. You never know if they will readjust satisfactorily but this looks the right sort of race for William Henry and the 5lb allowance can only help.

There is another handicap hurdle to round things off and Donald McCain chooses it for VISERION (each-way) rather than go to Wetherby or wait fir Kelso on Sunday. Sedgefield form does not often translate to top southern tracks but Viserion fairly surged clear last time and a 7lb higher mark does not look too prohibitive. He is a solid each-way choice at around 7/1.

Jim Old, who works alongside Nigel Twiston-Davies these days, took Count Meribel with him when making the move and the horse has been a revelation in novice hurdies this tern, winning three in good style before finding the task just too stiff at Cheltenham last time. He is a very fluent jumper and I believe he will be suited by the shorter trip of 2m 5f on Warwick’s excellent programme but this is a very hard race with so many of them having won last time out. Each-way has to be the call once again.