Nigel Twiston-Davies believes One True King is an “ideal” contender for the Ladbrokes Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton.
The six-year-old will be having just his sixth run over hurdles on Saturday, but arrives with an admirable record – having won twice and been placed on his other three starts in this sphere to date.
One True King was last seen when hacking up by 12 lengths at Leicester last month, and Twiston-Davies expects the former point-to-point and bumper winner to put up a bold show from his current mark of 132.
He said: “One True King hasn’t done a lot wrong this season and he should have won like he did last time at Leicester.
“He should be OK stepping up to this sort of trip around Kempton, because there is not the fierce Cheltenham hill at the end.
“This wasn’t a race we had in mind at the start – but as the season has gone on, we started thinking about it. Off his mark of 132, he should be ideal for it.”
Emma Lavelle is another who thinks she may have a runner on a favourable perch, as Shang Tang heads her two-pronged attack on the Listed handicap.
The seven-year-old shed his maiden tag at the sixth attempt at Ascot in November, but was then forced to miss a planned outing back there in December before running at Wincanton on Boxing Day when he fell at the first.
Lavelle said: “He was supposed to run at Ascot, but for the first time ever I couldn’t get a horse to load – he’d had a bad experience previously and he would not get on the lorry. While we didn’t learn much on the track at Wincanton, we at least learned that day that he would load!
“He was just a bit fresh at Wincanton, he made a mistake or whatever and slipped – but (jockey) James (Bowen) caught him, and he didn’t go anywhere, so he didn’t have a race.
“Jumping is usually his forte, and he has schooled well since, so hopefully that was just a one-off.
“He’s in good order, and I think there’s a bit of movement on his mark. I think he’s improved this season – and I do think he could be pretty well in.”
While Lavelle is unconcerned by the prospect of soft ground for Shang Tang, conditions could go against her other runner Boreham Bill – who was beaten into a narrow third over the course and distance last time out.
She added: “I wouldn’t be particularly worried about the ground for Shang Tang, but it’s probably not going to be ideal for Boreham Bill.
“I think he’s a horse that benefits from nice ground, but Kempton is as good a ground as we are going to get at this time of year.
“He ran a great race there last time. We took a bit of a chance running him, because we always thought he was better left-handed, but we went to Kempton for the better ground.
“He’s definitely got the abilities to run a good race, but you just have to wonder about the conditions.”
The White Mouse will be seeking a hat-trick off a 6lb higher mark as she lines up for Lucy Wadham, having landed mares’ handicap hurdles at Wincanton and Cheltenham on her two starts this season.
Wadham said: “She’s so brave and she stays well. She’s gone up quite a lot in the weights, so she has that to contend with. But she’s in good form, we’re looking forward to it and going there with all guns blazing.
“She’s won two mares’ races this year – this is open company and what looks a very competitive race. There’s a couple of novices at the top of the betting, and it could be a tough race for them – but it’s always hard to win three on the bounce.
“I think she is quite versatile in terms of ground, we just wouldn’t want to run her on extremes. I think Barney Clifford (Kempton clerk of the course) has said it could be quite testing, but it’s the same for all of us.”
The Paul Nicholls-trained Solo must concede weight to all his 19 rivals in the hugely competitive two-mile-furlong-heat, having failed to reach the expected heights following his Grade Two win in Kempton’s Adonis Juvenile Hurdle last term.
Solo subsequently disappointed in the Triumph Hurdle and has been beaten in Grade Two and Listed company already this term, but Nicholls thinks a step up in trip could help.
He told Betfair: “He’s got plenty to do in this carrying 11st 12lb, and his mark probably needs to drop a few more pounds for him to be competitive.
“But this first try at two miles five furlongs looks more suitable, and I do expect him to come into his own next season over fences – just like Clan Des Obeaux, Tommy Silver and Frodon, who all finished in much the same place as Solo when they ran in the Triumph Hurdle.”
Nicholls has a second string in Amour De Nuit, who made a fine return from a lengthy lay-off with a win at Plumpton in November before going down by less than two lengths in a competitive event at Newbury.
He added: “He could be interesting in this, ridden by the smart conditional Kevin Brogan, who impressed on his first ride for me at Taunton last month. Amour De Nuit ran very well at Newbury last time and has a chance of being in the mix again, with Kevin taking off a valuable 7lb.