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Nezami to come late and ground Aeroplane.

Byline: MEL COLLIER

I THOUGHT the Gulf Stream might come to jump racing's rescue and thaw out Musselburgh, but it wasn't to be, so punters are again limited to all-weather action.

At least there are some decent horses in action today, and the classiest on show is the 107-rated Bonus in the 3.55 at Kempton.

He's got a cracking record at this time of year - form figures of 1131132 in December and January; he has been out of the first three only once in six starts at Kempton and has been readied for a winter campaign after a three-month rest in the height of summer.

However, if you take a step back from those stats and examine the horse, and where he is in his career, we see a nine-year-old with plenty of miles on the clock who is going to be vulnerable giving weight away to younger, progressive types. In fact, given that scenario he's been beaten at shortish odds in the last three all-weather handicaps he has contested.

The obvious winner for many will be Aeroplane, who is three years younger than Bonus and was visually impressive when quickening up to win on the bridle at Lingfield last time. The trouble is, that was a slow-run race and he's been noted travelling very well in the past only to find little once let down.

He used to impress so much on Peter Chapple-Hyam's gallops that he was thrown into the St James's Palace Stakes on only his fourth start, but he blew out in front of the Queen and has subsequently been successful only in a maiden and a class 3 conditions race. It might be that a switch to Simon Callaghan has turned him around, but I remain a sceptic, especially at likely short odds here.

The one who interests me is Aeroplane's victim at Lingfield, Nezami. He looked one-paced that day when trying to make all at a track where it is difficult to execute those tactics, but this long strider showed his best form coming from off the pace. That was when winning a 7f Leicester handicap, with recent dual sand winner Noble Citizen well beaten.

So the switch to Kempton's sand for the first time is likely to be very much in Nezami's favour. He's 6lb better off (or 1lb if you ignore the rider's claim) for a half-length beating, and may not have to make his own running today with Count Trevisio and Abbondanza (whose winning sand form has been over two furlongs further) likely to be prominent.

My other bet, Sarah's Art in the 2.55 at Kempton, is speculative in the sense that he is among four or five in the line-up who are in form, reasonably handicapped and likely to run their race.

However, the selection is rock solid as there is every indication he will run to form. Positive indicators are the form of the Stef Liddiard stable (she is three-from-seven since December 19), a solid run at Wolverhampton last time and the belief that a step up to 7f is just what he wants.

Sarah's Art has never had much in the way of acceleration, which is why he often gets into trouble, but he got a clear run before winning over course and distance eight outings ago when, like today, he was drawn on the wide outside. Normally that's a disadvantage, but a look back through his videos suggests the horse is better out in the open and losing a few metres round the bends, rather than getting caught in traffic and not having the tactical pace to deliver a challenge.

The likeliest winner of the day is River Kirov at Wolverhampton, as he still has a few pounds up his sleeve despite carrying a 12lb penalty in the 2.50. He's going to be no sort of price, however, so we'll swerve him for betting purposes.

Today's bets

Sarah's Art

2.55 Kempton 1pt win

Nezami

3.55 Kempton 1pt win

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Stef Liddiard: trains Sarah's Art
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 7, 2009
Words:673
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