There is little doubt that trainer Paul Nicholls doesn’t have the top class stars he once did, but he does have lots of quality horses in his yard that keep the winners coming.
Irish Saint is one such horse and he has a big chance of winning Kempton’s 3.35pm Betbright Handicap Chase over three miles.
The online bookies vary somewhat in price for this horse, but Betfair are standing out with 15/2 at the time of writing, which is a very likeable price for a horse that loves it at the Kempton Park racecourse.
Irish Saint has won two good juvenile hurdles around here, including the Adonis Hurdle on this very card back in 2013.
On this card in 2015, the now 8-year old gelding produced a near career best performance to win the Grade 2 Pendil Novices’ Chase by ten lengths. After running well in defeat at Cheltenham and Aintree after that, Irish Saint was off the track for nineteen months through injury.
He returned to action in November at the Cheltenham Open meeting, and having ran below par there he ran well behind Regal Encore, faring somewhat better than the bare result suggested; just becoming a little tired over the trip.
Sandown on soft ground next time out was again a step too far for the horse, who travelled very well but just got bogged down and outstayed by Otago Trail and Loose Chips in the closing stages.
In the back of Paul Nicholls’ mind, the Betbright Handicap Chase has surely been the big plan for Irish Saint all along, he is on some Cheltenham Festival 2017 betting handicap lists, but this race looks the target.
The three runs he’s had so far this season will have done him a world of good and a return to a track he’s unbeaten in three starts at provides a perfect platform for Irish Saint to produce something like his best for this race.
A handicap mark of 146 is very reasonable and certainly exploitable. Decent ground would be a major plus for the horse, but he looks to have a good chance at fair betting odds.