Spartan Army aims to rubber-stamp Triumph claims at Kempton

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December 24

Whatever Christmas presents Santa might leave me tomorrow, I plan to keep back a bottle of my best champagne until Tuesday, hoping we might all get our number one wish for the Festive period, victory for Edwardstone in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.

The fast pace in the Tingle Creek at Sandown was just what the doctor ordered for Edwardstone to be able to play to his strengths, and, with easy Shloer Chase winner Nube Negra, seemingly his most dangerous rival and a likely opponent, we could be blessed with an end-to-end gallop,

That said, Edwardstone settles so much better this year. He switches off and is more relaxed, enabling Tom Cannon to keep that telling burst of speed on ice until the business end of a race, so however the race unfolds we know that on form our fellow holds all the ace cards.

Not that Edwardstone is our only big player on show at Kempton on Tuesday, though final declarations over the Festive period are released later with trainers having until 10am on Boxing Day to shuffle their options,

As we stand, Alan plans to run Spartan Army, our chief long-range hope for this year’s Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, in the introductory juvenile hurdle at Kempton, preferring that option to the Grade 2 Finale Junior Hurdle at Chepstow the same day.

Alan said:”Spartan Army, who was bought from Joseph O’Brien, was very impressive when winning on his hurdling debut at Wetherby. I’ve been happy with him since that race and think a lot of him, but this is the perfect next step as he is not quite ready to take on the battle-hardened rivals in the graded races.

“Another possible Kempton runner whom I’ve always had a high opinion of is Deyrann de Carjac. He had a light weight in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham’s November meeting, and we thought that he would run a big race in first-time cheekpieces, so it was disappointing when the race was lost to the frost.

“Deyrann de Carjac is entered in the 0-145 chase at Kempton, but I also have the option of keeping him back for New Year’s Day at Cheltenham, where he could run in a two mile, five furlong race.”

The sharp Kempton track might also suit Big Boy Bobby in the two-mile handicap hurdle. He was impressive when winning at Huntingdon, and even off a 7lb higher mark he looks interesting in his bid to follow-up, though his chance would be improved by the ground drying out.

We also have Senior Citizen entered in that Class 2 handicap chase at Kempton, and should Alan opt to go there, he’d be worth a second look. He has good form when going right-handed, so the track might suit him.