Overall ITV Racing has enjoyed a bright start to its new role as the mainstream broadcaster of UK horse racing and week three takes Ed Chamberlain, Luke Harvey & Co to Kempton for the Lanzarote Hurdle and Warwick for the Betfred Classic Chase. As usual an exciting weekend of top jumping action lay in store…
Jonjo O'Neill’s Doesyourdogbite is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles and this strong staying type from the flat is already being touted for the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He is yet to go left-handed and Prestbury Park will present its own challenge when the time comes, but on Saturday he’ll race at the scene of his game win in a good course and distance handicap on Boxing Day. A 6lb rise in the handicap is fair and this progressive and unexposed youngster could hold the key to this valuable contest. It is scheduled for 2.40pm, shown live on ITV4 and Racing UK, of course.
At 3.35pm up in Warwick - again shown live on ITV4 - the Betfred sponsored Classic Chase presents a stamina sapping race over 3 miles and 5 furlongs. Last year’s winner Russe Blanc is an interesting 20/1 shot with the sponsors Betfred, Kerry Lee has been finding some form of late and this 10yo needs to, but perhaps he’ll be well tuned up for this from a 7lb higher mark.
If Kaki De La Pree shows up he’d be shorter than 14/1 for the also in-form Tom Symonds, while the David Pipe trained Doctor Harper is interestingly handicapped on a mark of 136 if he is allowed to take his chance. Stamina and jumping are always the key to cracking the Warwick code, so whichever horse you bet, the ability to stay and jump well should be key attributes. A bit of course form wouldn’t go amiss either.
As for ITV Racing, the new faces and fresh approach has been enjoyable for the most part. For the racing purists, having the fall-back of ATR and RUK channels will continue to be important, but the better ITV do, the better for everyone as the sport attracts new faces and of course is being covered in the mainstream media for the right reasons. 2017 is a big year for them and it's only now we're seeing the boots they have to fill in Channel 4 who did such a good job for years. Come April and Aintree, even June and Royal Ascot, I think we can expect ITV Racing's assembled team to have settled down and come into their own for those big tests.
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