Racing returns with the traditional Kempton fun-fest and the much anticipated 32Red King George VI Chase the undoubted highlight at 3.05.
Hot favourite at a best price 11-8 is the enigmatic but highly talented Might Bite, which would be on a chasing 7-timer but for going rump over fetlock when well clear at the last a year ago on this very course. That race was the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and it should be remembered that the highest rated runner in that race ran off 148, which would result in a tailed-off finish in today’s event.
In fact, the official ratings in this afternoon’s race make very interesting reading. The BHA Handicapper rates Might Bite at just 162, which would see it beat just two home out of its seven rivals. The official result will be a win for Bristol De Mai, with Thistlecrack second and Whisper back in third and yet Might Bite has beaten Whisper on both the occasions they have met off level weights.
Add in the imponderable of Fox Norton stepping right up in trip in a race that is littered with winners which have done just that and the headline becomes clear.
We have a sneaking suspicion that Bristol De Mai, still only a 6-y-o, is a different and better horse this season, but sneaking suspicions do not equal a bet, so, reluctantly, our advice is – watch and enjoy.
The Unibet Christmas Hurdle at 2.30 is also a ‘no bet’ race as it should be a penalty kick for the 1/7 favourite and reigning Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air, which has just three rivals to take care of. Not great believers in schadenfreude, we hope to witness a sparkling performance.
Festivities begin at 12.45 with the 32Red Casino Novices’ Hurdle which has attracted the ‘dead eight’ runners and the favourite is the Harry Fry trained If The Cap Fits at a prohibitive 5-4. This 5-y-o has won both its starts over hurdles, but, frankly, hasn’t beaten much and carries an 8lb penalty into the bargain. With the trainer also expressing concern over the form of his runners, we easily oppose.
Second in is the Nicky Henderson trained Diese Des Bieffes, which has also won both hurdle starts, but by virtue of the first one being for ‘Conditionals’ is penalised just 5lbs. However, just like the Fav, the races won have had little substance, so we pass on this as well.
Simply The Betts was our headline selection on seasonal/hurdles debut on Dec 1st and, in finishing only third, was disappointing, so with a little trepidation we throw out the third favourite too.
Our each way punt in this race is the Colin Tizzard trained Storm Home, available at 16-1. An expensive purchase from the Irish Pointing field, this 5-y-o finished a close second on hurdle/stable debut, giving a pound to a horse that is now rated 134 and, although disappointing over a much longer trip next time, a repeat of the initial run will put it in the mix at an attractive price.
The 32Red.com Chase at 1.20 also has the ‘dead eight’ field with another Harry Fry inmate, Hell’s Kitchen disputing favouritism with Nicky Henderson ‘s debutante Reigning Supreme. We are going to oppose them both with a win bet on Mister Whitaker of Mick Channon’s at 9-2.Just 7lbs higher for last month’s easy win, this natural chaser is still well handicapped.
Also in this race we recommend an each way bet on Private Malone at 8-1. The disastrous season experienced by Emma Lavelle last year has seen her with some very attractively handicapped horses and, with all being well now, it could be time to cash in.
The next running of the aforementioned 32Red Kauto Star Novices’ Chase takes place at 1.55 and we have no hesitation in advising a win bet on Ballyoptic at 7-2. Won’t bore you with all the connected and collateral form lines in this race, but today may be the day Nigel Twiston-Davies’s potential star finally comes of age.
The day ends with the (you guessed it) 32Red Download The App Handicap Hurdle which has a field of 15, headed by Ben Pauling’s Kildisart. This last-time-out winner looks to be on a very nice mark for its handicap debut and should be backed to win at 7-2. Also have an each way bet on the unpenalised Golan Fortune at 15-2. Last seen rallying to re-pass our selection The Mighty Don just 4 days ago, Phil Middleton’s charge is clearly well in and will be ridden by the excellent Mr Tommie M O’Brien.
Back tomorrow, with the winner of the Welsh Grand National……….maybe.
Storm Home 12.45 Kempton e/w @ 16-1
Mister Whitaker 1.20 Kempton win @ 9-2
Private Malone 1.20 Kempton e/w @ 8-1
Ballyoptic 1.55 Kempton win @ 7-2
Kildisart 3.40 Kempton win @7-2
Golan Fortune 3.40 Kempton e/w @ 15-2