By Sam Turner For The Daily Mail
Published: 20:39 GMT, 21 February 2020 | Updated: 20:42 GMT, 21 February 2020
With four runners, Paul Nicholls is intent on winning Saturday's Betway Handicap Chase and the redoubtable BLACK CORTON (Kempton, nap, 3.35) is fancied to be the best of the Ditcheat quartet.
The early markets favour the chances of stablemate Adrien Du Pont, who was a creditable third in last season’s renewal, five lengths behind winner Walt, when patiently ridden by Harry Cobden.
Cobden retains his faith in the eight-year-old this afternoon and it is not difficult to see why as a little respite from the handicapper and a two-month break should see him cherry ripe.
However, racing prominently can often be a major advantage on the chase track at Kempton and in Black Corton, Nicholls has a horse which adores the Sunbury venue and is also an extremely potent force once he has rested for more than 50 days.
The selection has only been beaten by Top Notch and Altior in four trips to today’s venue (track figures read 1212), while his statistics when rested for more than seven weeks read an admirable 11111213.
He has also built up a fabulous association with Bryony Frost, who was on board when the gelding ran well in a competitive Ascot handicap before Christmas, a performance which came a fortnight after chasing home Native River at Aintree.
The desperate ground at Ascot would not have played to Black Corton’s strengths and, although the Kempton terrain may still be softer than ideal, it rarely becomes as deep there.
Some will feel Black Corton is handicapped to the hilt off a mark of 159 and that may prove the case. However, the figures suggest all three of his career-best displays have been achieved since his victory last