ITV Racing Preview - 12/01/2019

13:50 - The Hampton Novices' Steeple Chase

The opening race on ITV is the Listed Hampton Novices' Chase, and Rocky's Treasure has been a revelation since switching to fences, and has in fact only been beaten once - to arguably the best in the division (Santini), in five starts.

Four wins from five however this campaign, with victories at Kelso, Fakenham, Wetherby and Doncaster latest, in a Grade Two, and now drops in Grade for this contest.

Should have Ok Corral covered on ratings, and looks another leading light for Kim Bailey who also has the promising novice Vinndication.

Penalty to carry, but the one to beat.

14:05 - The 32Red Casino Steeple Chase

We then switch to Kempton, for the first of three live contests, and in what looks a very competitive renewal of the Listed 32Red Casino Chase, we have chosen to side with Charbel.

Kim Bailey thought the time was right for her 8yo to step-up in trip permanently after a close effort at Perth was matched with a victory at Chepstow earlier on in the season.

He then went to finish second to Politologue in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot over 2m5f, before a relentless display from the front in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon latest.

Strong credentials under optimum conditions.

14:25 - The Ballymore Leamington Novices' Hurdle Race

Birchdale currently heads the way for Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices Hurdle for Nicky Henderson.

The Champion Trainer was left disappointed after the run of Rathhill in the same ownership in the Tolworth a week ago, and now has another novice Festival hopeful in this 5yo, who could go down the avenue of this named race - in the 2m5f division.

Birchdale is a course and distance winner on his sole start over timber, when running on strongly in the closing stages to land a maiden, with the third also boosting the form by winning since.

Leading contender.

14:40 - The Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle Race

The big race of the day is the Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton, and the field is rather large so we have selected both the favourite Kloud Gate and course specialist Erick Le Rouge.

Kloud Gate finished a long last in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket on the flat in October, but has responded with two wins over timber in December. He has shot up the weights, and is very well fancied.

Our second selection is a horse very much in form - Erick Le Rouge, who could very much handle the step-up to Listed company.

Chester Williams certainly caught the eye on this 4yo in the final race on the King George card at Kempton on Boxing Day, where he almost made all to win smartly.

He has also won at Warwick and Bangor by good margins and look set for a climb in the ratings with another solid performance here.

15:00 - The Classic Handicap Steeple Chase

Step Back is back again, hoping to boost his Grand National credentials in the Grade 3 Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick.

The 9yo's victory in the Sandown Gold Cup back in April on the last day of last season is being boosted all the time. The second - Rock The Kasbah won the G3 BetVictor.com Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November, whilst the third - Present Man, landed back to back Listed Badger Ales Trophies at Wincanton.

There have also been wins for the fourth and fifth, and eighth and ninth placed-finished horses in major contests since.

Step Back returned to finish seventh at Chepstow latest, but would have improved his fitness and sharpness, and now heads to the very same race One For Arthur won, on his route to the 2017 Grand National.

15:15 - The 32Red.Com Handicap Steeple Chase

The veteran Josses Hill has sprung back to life, and will look to justify top weight in the penultimate race on ITV and at Kempton - the Unibet Handicap Chase.

Now 11yo, Josses Hill ran a fairly positive comeback race at Huntingdon latest behind Charbel - proving he perhaps needs three miles nowadays.

Interesting alternative to the current co-favourites.

15:35 - The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Race

The final race on ITV is at Warwick, in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, and First Assignment can get back to winning ways for Ian Williams after starting the season with much promise.

He was a beaten favourite when last seen at Haydock (third to Paisley Park in a Grade 3), but remains largely progressive and of significant interest.

Receives 10lbs from Blaklion, and should be involved.

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