Kempton stages one of the season's most prestigious handicap hurdle contests on Saturday in the shape of the Lanzarote Hurdle. The 2m5f Listed contest (2:40) has attracted a field of 16 runners and last year's winning rider and owner feature amongst our Lanzarote Hurdle Tips with River Frost.
It could also be worth keeping an eye on the two runners for trainer Nick Williams at big prices given he's taken this prize three times in the previous seven renewals, with Warren Ashurt taking a look at three horses.
Owner JP McManus scooped this prize 12 months ago with the Paul Nicholls-trained Modus and retrained rider Barry Geraghty will have high hopes again this time around on board River Frost, currently trading at 11/2 in the Lanzarote Hurdle betting. The six-year-old has developed a liking for Kempton in his seven-race hurdles career, with two of his three wins coming around here, including over the Lanzarote C&D back in February.
He began this season with a fine fifth in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow in October and hasn't been spotted since, leaving the impression he could well be laid out for this valuable prize. The form of that run could scarcely be better, with Sam Spinner (favourite for the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham), Wholestone, Old Guard and Bags Groove all having come out and won races since. He looks a major player coming into this and must go on any shortlist.
Trainer Ben Pauling picked this race out for Red Indian on the back of his fine reappearance at Cheltenham in November. That was his first attempt over this longer trip and he was sent off favourite despite not having run for 189 days. Red Indian finished an honourable third in ground conditions that were much softer than ideal, with the tacky ground perhaps blunting his speed when it mattered most.
Pauling has reiterated his belief this week that his six-year-old looks well-handicapped in what is a hot contest and Red Indian's chances won't be harmed by the return of in-form rider David Bass in the plate. At an each-way price of 11/1 in the Lanzarote Hurdle market, Pauling's charge looks a lively outsider and has the potential to improve on what is just his fifth start over timber while any drying of the ground will be in his favour before the off.
The partnership of Nick Williams and Lizzie Kelly offered a timely reminder on Friday afternoon of their ability to give more fancied connections a bloody nose when Esprit De Somoza lowered the colours of a pair of promising contenders from the Nicky Henderson and Philip Hobbs yards at Huntingdon. Williams has won this race three times since 2011, with Kelly memorably on board when Tea For Two struck in 2015.
On the face of it, 25/1 chance Dentley De Mee has bit of improving to do, having been bumped up 11lb for his runner-up finish on handicap debut at Ludlow over this trip in November. Any improvement in the going will be in his favour and it has to be worth noting that this yard have saved him for this particular race. At a big price, he completes our Lanzarote Hurdle Tips for Saturday's big race at Kempton.