Lizzie Kelly is feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation as she looks forward to the ride on leading fancy Tea For Two in the William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton today.
The 7lb claimer has created a big impression riding mainly for her stepfather, trainer Nick Williams, and she is set to have more opportunities, having recently been appointed stable conditional to Wiltshire handler Neil King.
Her biggest success to date came on Aubusson, owned by her mother Jane Williams, in the Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in November.
She dons the same colours on Tea For Two in this competitive handicap, having ridden the six-year-old in all his seven starts to date.
The partnership has never been out of the frame and has been successful four times, with the latest win coming at Towcester on Boxing Day. “I think we’ll learn a lot about him and, at the moment, I’m on a massive learning curve as well. I need to get the experience to be able to ride these kind of horses,” said Kelly. “It’s all quite big and scary. I never thought this would be my first season as a conditional and it’s gone really well.
“People tend to get very excited about these things, but there’s a lot of good horses in the race and it’s highly competitive. He’s won at the track so we know the track suits him. He’s won over two-four and two miles so he seems to have speed and stamina. We are quietly optimistic, but in a race like that you couldn’t put your mortgage on him.”
Her mother believes this is the right time to step out of novice company to a handicap of this nature with Tea For Two. “We haven’t got any chinks in him at the moment. He is inexperienced but I think he’s ready for a race like this,” she said.
Hello George had a baptism of fire on his handicap debut, finishing sixth to Bayan in the Ladbroke at Ascot last month. Trainer Philip Hobbs reports the six-year-old to have taken that race in his stride and expects him to be suited by the longer distance of this contest.
“He came out of the Ladbroke really well. He’s a lovely young horse who will make a lovely chaser next year, we hope,” said the Minehead trainer. “Two miles in the Ladbroke was a bit short for him, we hope the two-miles-five in the Lanzarote will suit him better.”
Rigadin De Beauchene is fancied to reclaim his title in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick. In a race which looks ripe for a mini-upset, Venetia Williams’ stayer is taken to come out on top, just as he did two years ago. Though the ten-year-old’s late-season form last year does not make attractive reading – he was pulled up at Ayr and at Sandown – this is perhaps the right time to catch him.
Cape Tribulation was verging on top drawer in his younger days but, while the effects of old age are having an impact, a race like the Royal Caledonian Hunt Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Kelso tomorrow is well within his compass.
Malcolm Jefferson’s charge won the Argento Chase back in 2013 and was fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the same year, but has been on something of a downward slide since. He struggled to make his mark on his first couple of starts this term but sparked back to life with a two-and-a-half-length second in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day. Rated 165 in his pomp, Cape Tribulation is now on a perch of 146 and this kind of race looks an ideal prep for a possible Crabbie’s Grand National bid.
Glingerburn could be Kelso-bound in the future after maintaining his unbeaten record over timber in the Cash Out On The Betdaq+ App “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster yesterday. “He’s a nice horse, he’s just learning the job,” said trainer Nicky Richards. “We might take him to the Morebattle at Kelso on 14 February and then there’s a Grade Two in Kelso if that goes well.”