The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle is the centrepiece contest at Kempton this afternoon and the field hosts a number of useful sorts.
Harry Fry saddles the progressive BAGS GROOVE and the gelding tops BTO+ ratings heading into the affair. The six year old son of Oscar runs off an official rating of 140 but that could well underestimate his ability. Bags Groove has won two of his past three races, while his eighth place finish in the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow, sandwiched between those two successes, was also a decent effort. Last month, Fry's charge ran out an impressive two and a quarter length winner at Aintree under a strong ride by Noel Fehily. The Irishman retains the ride on Bags Grove and the duo clearly have a superb rapport together. More impressive is that the gelding has 13 positives next to his name on BTO+ ratings. One of those is Fry's win rate over today's course and distance, which is 24% better than expected.
LE BREUIL has the potential to develop into a nice prospect for Ben Pauling. The French-bred gelding earned a mark of 139 during his novice hurdle season last term and connections will be hoping he can surpass that rating by a decent margin. Le Breuil picked up two successes in impressive fashion last season. The son of Anzillero broke his duck over hurdles at Sedgefield where he scored by nine lengths before he followed that up with a similar effort at Newbury. On his final start of the campaign, the five year old was pulled up in the Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree when he was facing some high-class sorts. Nevertheless, the gelding would have likely learnt a great deal from that run and Pauling shows a 29% better than expected win rate with his horses returning in November off a 150 days break.
THE LAST SAMURI is undoubtedly running over hurdles to protect his chase mark for a potential crack at the Beecher Chase at Aintree next month. Kim Bailey's son of Flemensfirth is rated 159 over larger obstacles, although it's over three years since he ran over timber. The Last Samuri is a high-class chaser who finished second in the Grand National in 2016. However, the nine year old was unable to etch a victory onto his CV last season, with his best effort coming in the Beecher at Aintree where he was third. All roads seemingly lead towards that same race again and connections are likely blowing out any cobwebs this afternoon.
WHO DARES WINS comes into the contest fully race fit. Alan King's charge was campaigned on the Flat during the summer and recorded an impressive victory in the Cesarewitch Trial Handicap at Newmarket by one and three quarter lengths. Who Dares Wins also has plenty of talent over hurdles and was third in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last term. The son of Jeremy is second best rated by BTO+ and jockey Tom Cannon brags a 152% better than expected win rate over the course and distance.
SUMKINDOFKING sits at the foot of the weights. The six year old King's Theatre gelding won his first two races for Tom George yet he has failed to score in his past five races. Sumkindofking was ninth in the Silver Trophy on his seasonal reappearance and has to improve on that effort.
Nicky Henderson saddles MAESTRO ROYAL. The eight year old won at Newbury in March but then struggled at Perth after being raised five pounds by the handicapper. Maestro Royal runs off the same mark of 135 today and has to prove himself.
Article Posted on Monday 13th November 2017 @ 08.25
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