13:50 Kempton

Kalif Du Berlais looked like a potential top-class prospect in winning on his UK/stable debut over C&D six weeks ago, but the form has worked out poorly, and he is up against much classier opposition in today’s Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle. 

Instead, I will take a swing at the Gary Moore-trained PEKING OPERA (best price 15/2), who created a tidy impression when successful on his hurdles debut at Sandown and has every chance of retaining his unbeaten record in this sphere with improvement on the cards. 

He travelled beautifully throughout, and while the highly-regarded The Good Doctor, who had the benefit of a run, he quickened up stylishly in the closing stages. This four-year-old is now pitched into the deep end, but he could be top-class and is a definite value choice at the odds. 

He was smart on the flat when trained by Aidan O’Brien, given he was rated as high as 105 and was contesting Group 1s. He placed in an Irish Derby and concluded his time in Ireland with a third in a Group 3 race behind Vauban. I am surprised he isn’t a lot shorter in the betting because he should be matched closer to the favourite. 

Peking Opera - 1pt

15:00 Kempton

The Grade 2 Dovecote Novices' Hurdle is likely to prove informative, as most of these bring serious potential to the table. However, I like the chances of FIERCELY PROUD (best price 10/3) for the bang-in-form Ben Pauling and Ben Jones combination.

This dual bumper winner won his first two starts over hurdles and actually travelled the best in the Grade 2 Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster last time out. He finished third in the end, but he kept himself in the battle until the very end.

He has an impressive strike rate of four wins from seven starts, and the only two times he has been out of the frame were in the championship bumpers at Cheltenham and Aintree. He is open to further improvement, and I am confident he will reverse the form with Lump Sum. 

Fiercely Proud - 1pt

14:08 Newcastle

Extra ITV Racing Tips 

Venetia Williams doesn’t send many to Newcastle, but it’s worth noting when she does, given her 50% strike rate, with two winners from four runners. Her only runner on the card is CHRISTOPHER WOOD (best price 12/1) in the feature, who must have a solid each-way chance, with four places widely on offer.

The nine-year-old is also Charlie Deutsch’s only ride on the card. His form suggests he is a better hurdler, but he shaped very well when he finished third in the Edinburgh National over this distance last time out. That effort ultimately confirmed his stamina for a marathon trip, and the assessor has reduced his mark by a pound.

Christopher Wood - 0.5pts e/w

14:08 Newcastle

PRINCE DES FICHAUX (best price 16/1) is the other one I like in the Eider Chase. He came very close to winning here last month when he was only just denied by Fenland Tiger. He was beaten half-length, but I reckon he would have won if he hadn’t left his back legs in the last fence when in front at the time. 

He has to compete from four pounds out of the handicap here, but he could be suited to this extreme test of stamina, and given his low weight, he makes appeal at double-figure digits, with four places generally on offer. Furthermore, he is Ewan Whillans only runner on the card. 

Prince Des Fichaux - 0.5pts e/w

14:27 Kempton

The Grade 2 Pendil Novices' Chase has attracted a good field of six, and while I contemplated nominating Tahmuras, preference is for Gary Moore’s LE PATRON (best price 4/1) who is fancied to come out on top despite a rather lacklustre display last time out. 

The six-year-old won his first three starts over fences, and in December, he battered a good field in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown, which has worked out well. It is easy to put a line through his latest showing, as no rival was able to get near runaway winner Nickleback. 

He needs to get back on track, but this course should play to his strengths, and I expect him to be ridden closer to the pace. Even after his latest defeat, he is still the highest-rated runner in the field at 148 and remains the only participant to have won at the highest level in this sphere

Le Patron - 1pt

14:27 Kempton

The outsider of the field, SOUL ICON (best price 20/1) also warrants some interest despite coming into the race as the lowest-rated runner. The seven-year-old won four on the bounce over hurdles in 2022 and looked set to score on his chase debut at Wincanton before he departed at the second last fence. 

He could only muster third in the Wayward Lad here over the Christmas period, but he was only six lengths behind Nickleback, and we know what the runner-up has done since. The move up in distance to two and a half miles is worth another go, and the booking of Gavin Sheehan is interesting. He could surprise a few. 

Soul Icon - 0.5pts e/w