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Josses Hill and Champion Court to enhance Cheltenham credentials

| 11.01.2014

Saturday’s racing from Kempton and Warwick is likely to shake up betting markets for not only races at the Cheltenham Festival, but also the Grand National. Backing the four suggested winners below would pay out a hefty sum.

Tolworth Hurdle (13:35 Kempton) – Josses Hill @ 5/1

The defection of Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite Irving is a blow for this particular race, although it does build greater suspense ahead of the Cheltenham Festival when the biggest guns avoid crossing paths earlier in the season.

Trainer David Pipe has hinted that the change of track from Sandown to Kempton will not play to the strengths of The Liquidator because of its flatter nature, while although Nicky Henderson has won two of the last three renewals of this race, Royal Boy may need further.

Prince Siegfried looks too old as an eight-year-old despite running Irving close last time, Upazo has been impressive without beating much and this is a step up in class and Philip Hobbs tends to find one too good in this race, which goes against Garde La Victoire.

This leaves Josses Hill as the chosen one and the fact Barry Geraghty has chosen him over Royal Boy could be significant. Chase (14:10 Kempton) – Champion Court 3/1

Most eyes will be on Willie Mullins traveller Twinlight, but there have to be doubts about his stamina over this 2m4f trip, with his best performances certainly coming over 2m.

Captain Chris is a three-time winner at Kempton, but finished behind Champion Court when the pair met in the Peterborough Chase before Christmas.

With the pair meeting on the same terms again and Champion Court seemingly getting an upgrade through the jockey booking of Tony McCoy, he is fancied to confirm positions.

Lanzarote Hurdle (14:40 Warwick) – Kaylif Aramis @ 10/1

Saphir Du Rheu looks the obvious one to beat after an impressive victory at Sandown last time in a Pertemps qualifier, but he has been raised 15lb by the handicapper for this success, which is a big ask.

River Maigue is an interesting one, after chiefly getting campaigned over 2m and tending to get outpaced when the business began to pick up. He does have winning 3m form from his younger years in Ireland and so he is one to consider each-way over this 2m5f trip.

However, Kaylif Aramis may prove the unknown quantity of the race. He looked to be a major player in the Cheltenham contest won by Thomas Crapper before falling two out and then last time he ran well to take sixth over an inadequate trip.

He has been dropped 1lb for this run and with another 7lb coming off through the jockey booking of claimer Ryan Hatch, he looks exceedingly well handicapped.

Betfred Classic Chase (15:35 Warwick) – Victors Serenade @ 12/1

A possible Grand National fancy may emerge from this Warwick 3m5f contest and the expected heavy ground will put greater emphasis on stamina.

Runners rated between 133 and 140 have fared best in recent years and this immediately narrows the field down to Noble Legend and Victors Serenade and the fact three of the last four winners have been sent off at double-figure prices is an extra tick in their box.

Noble Legend is far from guaranteed to relish a bog and so preference is for Victors Serenade, who should also have profited from a spin over hurdles earlier this season when finishing a credible second off a big weight.