Andy Holding takes an ante-post look at Saturday's big hurdle feature at Kempton.
Following wins for Cause Of Causes in 2012 and Bayan last season, all Gordon Elliot-trained representatives in this valuable and competitive handicap have to be taken very seriously, and in the shape of DIAMOND KING (best price 14/1), the Co Meath handler appears to have another fine chance of wrestling the prize back to his Longwood base.
Formerly with Donald McCain, the son of King’s Theatre made a pleasing start for new connections when finishing a creditable fourth in a hot handicap hurdle at Down Royal in October, doing enough to suggest the switch in stables would bear fruit over the winter. True enough, the seven-year-old improved upon that initial outing with an even better display next time at Fairyhouse, chasing home the potentially very exciting Alan Fleming-trained gelding Blue Hell in what looked a red-hot handicap at the Co Kildare venue. Indeed, a closer delve into the overall speed figure and sectional times of that race compared to the rest of the card, suggests the first three home are all worth following and as his trainer would have probably left a little bit to work on with a view to bigger targets down the line, the likelihood of further improvement isn’t out of the question.
Obviously, the likes of the Winner Massagot and Jolly’s Cracked It rate major threats and thoroughly deserve their place at the top of the market, but the life appears to have been sucked out of their odds, whereas the price for Diamond King still makes plenty of appeal considering all the positives attached to his chance.