Opening day of the Kempton Christmas jumping fest today features the 32Red King George V1 Chase at 3.05, with a stellar field of 10 going to post.

Favourite is the slightly enigmatic Might Bite at 7-2, last seen being completely fazed by the stiff Haddock fences, trailing in a tailed off last behind four of today’s opponents. Expected to carry all before it this season after last season’s exploits there is a chance that the 9-y-o will bounce back and marmalise the field, but, as ‘ifs’ go, that’s a big one.

We prefer the chances of the Ruth Jefferson trained Waiting Patiently, which is aptly named as, following a setback, WP was forced to miss the Festival and hasn’t been seen since February.

However, this 7-y-o is a perfect six from six over fences, including the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase in which it left the 169 rated Frodon trailing in its wake by 18 lengths. With all stable news positive and the step up to 3 miles likely to eke out more improvement we recommend a safety first each way bet at 4-1.

The other feature race on the card is the Unibet Christmas Hurdle at 2.30 and this should be a walk in the proverbial park for Buveur D’Air, which is 1-4 and quite right too.

First race on telly is the Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at 1.20 and we expect Mr N J Henderson to supply the winner.

Lough Derg Spirit is the favourite at 9-2, more on the basis of reputation than actual performance, having won a non-event at Wetherby in October on chasing debut. Not seen since and having received a wind op, we will take the view that the trainer’s comments have to be taken seriously and recommend a modest win bet at the price.

NJH‘s other representative, Turtle Wars is also very much of interest. Decent as a Novice Hurdler, but always going to be a better chaser, this horse was made favourite for a similar race at Sandown 3 weeks ago, but was put out of the race by a faller at the 6th fence and was brought home in its own time to finish fifth. Better was clearly anticipated and we must go in each way today at  7-1, especially with 4 places on offer.

The Grade 1 32Red Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at 1.55 has turned out to be a nightmare.

A notional ‘Horses To Follow In Novice Chases’ list would include Bags Groove, Santini and La Bague Au Roi and, stap our victuals, they’ve all pitched up in the same race.

Sorry, folks, we just can’t make a selection here.

There is one other race covered by the ITV cameras today and that is the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby (2.10).

With the dead eight due to take part, we recommend each way bets on Taking Risks at 13-2 and Alison Monterg at 7s to give us a run for the hard-earned.

Back tomorrow for Kempton and Chepstow.


Waiting Patiently 3.05 Kempton 2pts e/w @ 4-1
Lough Derg Spirit 1.20 Kempton 2pts win @ 9-2
Turtle Wars 1.20 Kempton 1pt e/w @ 7-1
Taking Risks 2.10 Wetherby 1pt e/w @ 13-2
Alison Monterg 2.10 Wetherby 1pt e/w @ 7-1

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