Top-weight may not be enough to stop Kempton specialist Tea For Two in Kempton’s Grade 3 Betbright Handicap Chase on Saturday night.
Tea For Two has only met defeat once in four starts at Kempton and that came on his last visit when only beaten three and a half lengths behind then Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack in the King George VI. The Nick Williams-trained eight-year-old has since made it eight wins from 19 starts when dropped down in class at Exeter and he’s really been seeing out the three miles well, so Saturday’s contest which will most likely be run at a fierce pace should play to his strengths. He does have to carry top-weight of 11-12 but he’s shown an ability in the past to shoulder such burdens and in the last nine renewals Rocky Creek (2015) won off 11-11 and Gungadu (2008) carried 11-12. A right-handed track, Kempton really seems to play to his strengths and along with his fine effort in the King George VI he won a novice hurdle and the Lanzarote in 2014 before returning a year later to win the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. That race will provide fond memories for regular pilot Lizzie Kelly as it made her the first female jockey to win a chase at the top level in the UK and Saturday’s contest can provide further success for the partnership.
Tea For Two is currently on a career-high mark of 158 but is still improving and the his best days may still be ahead. He faces a really competitive field which includes last year’s winner Theatre Guide and the betting market will be wide-open. Tom George has also enjoyed recent success in this race with Nacarat winning twice in 2009 and 2012 and the trainer has two entries with Roc D’Apsis and Double Shuffle. The latter was pulled up in this grade at Cheltenham in November but that was over shorter and is well worth another try after a win over this track and distance at the end of last year. It was the seven-year-old’s first run wearing a hood and at the three mile trip and the combination really brought a return to form and a career high mark of 149.
Paul Nicholls won this race two years ago with Rocky Creek and he has Southfield Theatre, Irish Saint and Caid Du Berlais entered. If lining up all would be prominent in the betting but Irish Saint stands out on his Kempton form having been unbeaten in three previous visits here including twice on this card having won the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle in 2013 and the 2015 Pendil Novices’ Chase. The eight-year-old has slipped to an official rating of 146 having been seven pounds higher in his novice days and remains well handicapped, however he was a tiring third over three miles at Sandown earlier this month and he remains a doubtful stayer.
Another to note is Dan Skelton’s Three Musketeers who gained a second win over fences when dropped in class at Market Rasen in January. That too is a right-handed track which suited really well and he looks ready for a step up to the three miles, however this is a sharp rise in class against experienced chasers and the fast pace may put his jumping under too much pressure.
Listed - East Cape Guineas
G3 - Kings Cup
G2 - Resource Recycling Superstars Championship
G3 - Lamb & Hayward 4&5yo Trotting Championship
G2 - Storer Motors Nz Trotting Oaks