The betting on the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton Park on Saturday is dominated by Charles Byrnes’s Green Glory, who won with something to spare on his handicap debut at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, and the first question for most punters will be whether they are with or against the 4-1 favourite when there are 19 alternatives in opposition.
Many will look no further. Byrnes is a famously canny operator whose runners often find plenty of improvement when handicapping, and his son Philip, who was also in the saddle for Green Glory’s cosy win last month, is well worth his 5lb claim.
Green Glory’s winning time, however, was nothing special, and he will be racing off a 16lb higher mark on Saturday, which tips the balance towards taking him on.
There is a credible case to be made for at least a dozen of his opponents but when the likely odds are taken into account, Scarface (2.40) – at around 20-1 – emerges as the most tempting proposition.
Joe Tizzard’s six-year-old makes his handicap debut after two wins in small-field novice hurdles this season, and clocked a decent time in the second of those victories despite facing only two rivals. His stable thought it worth giving him a try in a Grade One at Cheltenham in March, and an opening mark of 126 could well prove generous.
Kempton Park 1.30 A slight ease in grade for the front-running Annsam, who led the Coral Gold Cup field to four out in November and is now just 1lb above his last winning mark over fences.
Warwick 1.50 Galia Des Liteaux needs to be forgiven a poor run at Grade One level last time, when an early mistake seemed to knock her confidence, but has a realistic chance against Complete Unknown, the likely favourite, on her debut form at Bangor.
Kempton Park 2.05 Paint The Dream was an easy winner off a mark of 154 at Newbury in November and that form gives him a serious chance to notch a first Grade Two success.
Warwick 2.25 All seven runners go to post with a chance, but Knowsley Road, unbeaten in two starts over timber, may have most scope for progress.
Warwick 3.00 Lord Du Mesnil made a promising return behind Le Milos, the subsequent Coral Gold Cup winner, at Bangor in November and has an obvious chance at around 8-1 if he can build on that here.
Warwick 3.35 Nicky Henderson’s The Bomber Liston had been off for eight months before finishing within six lengths of the winner at Kempton on Boxing Day and could find more for this step back up in trip.