HORSE RACING: Charlie McCann previews the King George VI Chase which takes place on Boxing Day and he reckons Imperial Commander is the pick at 3/1 without Kauto Star.
Three Grade 1’s on a wonderful card at Kempton Park including the opportunity for Kauto Star to make history by becoming the first horse in history to win four successive King George VI Chases. It would be a major shock if the brilliant nine-year-old met with defeat and punters can back without the favourite if they wish with Ryanair Chase winner Imperial Commander leading the market at 3/1.
Long Run makes his eagerly awaited British debut in the Feltham Chase and in receipt of 7lbs the Nicky Henderson four-year-old ought to enhance his RSA Chase prospects. Having followed Pocket Aces all season I am slightly surprised that connections have decided to step him up in trip and class, and hope that his handicap mark won’t be irreparably damaged. It looks a top class renewal but Long Run can land the spoils.
It will be interesting to see if former winner Straw Bear is employed as a pacemaker for Binocular in the Xmas Hurdle following the latter’s dismal showing in the Fighting Fifth on his reappearance. It looks sure to be a tactical battle with Go Native, Starluck and Binocular all likely to be played late. Go Native is the only one with realistic Champion Hurdle aspirations in my opinion and, one could argue, this is the Champion Hurdle for both Starluck and Binocular who are ideally served by a flat track such as Kempton. The latter is preferred on this occasion.
If there is any money for Carlitos returning from a near 1000-day break in the finale I suggest we take the hint. A mark of 120 for his Chase debut looks extremely generous on the best of his Novice hurdle form including his three-quarter length defeat by none other than Sizing Europe on his hurdle debut. Nigel Twiston-Davies can certainly get them fit at home and first time out may be the time to catch him at what looks sure to be a double figure price.
The nap is the aforementioned Sizing Europe in the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Leopardstown due off at 2.20.
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All the very best