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Lancashire Telegraph racing column
7:00am Saturday 22nd February 2014 in Sport
Bally Legend can earn small-time trainer Caroline Keevil a landmark success in the BetBright Chase at Kempton.
The nine-year-old gelding has been overlooked in the betting for the Grade Three over three miles, but he has enough ability to cause an almighty upset at the Sunbury circuit.
Dorset-based Keevil has long earmarked this race as the conditional goal for Bally Legend, which in itself is reassuring as many of his rivals will have more pressing targets in the spring.
Perhaps one of the best things about Bally Legend, though, is his fondness for Kempton.
Keevil’s inmate has not yet ran a bad race at the track, with his near three-length defeat of Niceonefrankie, who renews rivalry at the weekend, last January the highlight.
Bally Legend is a lot higher in the weights for this assignment, as is Niceonefrankie, but he remains off just a 4lb higher mark than when victorious at Exeter in December.
Although question marks remain about his ability to handle three miles, his fourth-placed finish behind Ma Filleule over course and distance over Christmas did not provide conclusive evidence that he does not stay.
Bally Legend loves to make the running, but he was not afforded an easy lead that day and had to work much harder, from much earlier in the race, than jockey Ian Popham might have expected.
That might not be the case this time, as it is entirely possible the protagonists in what is a substandard renewal will underrate the trailblazer until it is too late.
Suitably buoyed by an encouraging second in jumpers’ bumper on Kempton’s all-weather track in January, Bally Legend, who has only been tried eight times over fences, could have a great deal more to offer than his odds might reflect.
Even though he has won in exacting conditions, the relatively dry forecast is also in his favour.
Irving can underline his Cheltenham Festival credentials by winning the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle.
Paul Nicholls’ unbeaten hurdler has looked the real deal this term, with a six-length defeat of Volnay De Thaix in a Grade Two at Ascot a clear indicator of his worth.
The form from that race now looks watertight, too, as the the third horse home, Splash Of Ginge, was in receipt of 3lb that day and has subsequently won the Betfair Hurdle.
Nicholls has been very cautious with Irving given the desperate winter conditions, but he clearly feels the Dovecote is the right race for Irving ahead of a likely assault at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March.
Balder Succes has done more than enough over fences to warrant support in the BetBright Mobile Pendil Novices’ Chase.
The Alan King-trained six-year-old jumped really well en route to a cosy success in the Kingmaker at Warwick a few weeks ago, which served further notice about how well he can travel in the mud.
King is, at this stage, leading towards Aintree, rather than Cheltenham, with Balder Succes, so this race fits in well with that in mind.
The BetBright.com Adonis Juvenile Hurdle does not look a classic, so a chance is taken on the newcomer Agreement.
Rebecca Curtis’ four-year-old had some decent Flat form when trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien and gets a lot of weight from a lot of horses who have hardly ripped up too many trees since sent hurdling.
Good racing on the level at Lingfield, where Grandeur’s class can rise to the fore in the coral.co.uk Winter Derby Trial Stakes.
Jeremy Noseda’s five-year-old was not beaten too far in the Hong Kong Cup on his last start in December, and is, on the ratings, head and shoulders above the rest of them here.
Grandeur looks the ideal sort to thrive on the all-weather and can take this before going for the Winter Derby itself in March.
Ladies Are Forever can snare back-to-back renewals of the Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Cleves Stakes.
Geoff Oldroyd’s classy sprinter had another good season in 2013 and is a solid call to overcome a lengthy absence at a track she clearly enjoys.
Wyck Hill’s form has been patchy at best this season, but all can be forgiven in the Betfred Eider at Newcastle.
David Bridgwater’s stayer has continually floundered this winter, but the handicapper has now given him a huge helping hand.
The 10-year-old is 2lb lower than when he readily accounted for Katenko on heavy ground at Ascot in December 2012, with the prospect of a bog on Gosforth Park unlikely to knock him off his stride.
Wyck Hill obviously needs to improve, but he is capable of doing so off his revised mark and at a chunky price.
Ballylifen was a shade unfortunate in a decent race at Newbury in December and can be relied upon in the 32Red Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Chepstow, while One In A Milan, who finished fourth in the Welsh National, is a worthy ally in a series qualifier for the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
CHEPSTOW: 1.20 Ashford Wood, 1.55 Ballylifen, 2.30 Lord Protector, 3.05 Fago, 3.40 One In A Milan, 4.10 Brandon Thomas, 4.45 Rock On Rocky.
FAIRYHOUSE: 1.25 Plinth, 2.00 Beluckyagain, 2.35 Wicklow Gold, 3.10 On His Own, 3.45 Si C’Etait Vrai, 4.20 Seabass, 4.50 Officer Cadet, 5.15 Luska Lad.
KEMPTON: 1.30 Lost Legend, 2.05 Agreement, 2.40 Balder Succes, 3.15 Irving, 3.50 BALLY LEGEND (NAP), 4.25 Full Shift, 4.55 Aqalim.
LINGFIELD: 1.45 Ladies Are Forever, 2.15 Random Success, 2.50 Apostle, 3.30 Grandeur, 4.05 Mbhali, 4.40 Two In The Pink, 5.10 Triple Dream.
NEWCASTLE: 1.50 Edmund Kean, 2.20 Ubaltique, 2.55 Wyck Hill, 3.25 Panama Petrus, 3.55 Island Heights, 4.30 Gansey, 5.00 Grove Silver.
DOUBLE: Bally Legend and Irving.
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