Former Talksport presenter Charlie McCann marks your card for Boxing Days’ racing at Kempton, casting a detailed eye over 5 races.
At the time of writing StanJames.com are betting 11/8 that racing takes place at Kempton on Boxing Day and 4/7 it doesn’t. Let’s hope the forecast thaw for Boxing Day allows racing to go ahead as history promises to be made as Kauto Star bids to win the feature William Hill King George VI Chase for an unprecedented fifth year in a row. Note if the Boxing Day card is lost the King George & Xmas Hurdle will be run on Monday 27th weather permitting.
Newly crowned Sports Personality of the Year AP McCoy takes the mount on the dual former Gold Cup winner following the injuries to first Ruby Walsh and more recently Noel Fehily. On official figures Kauto Star has to be merely pointed in the right direction to win but why are the bookmakers fielding against him?
Time waits for no one and Kauto Star will be 11 on January 1st and it is almost eight years since he made his racecourse debut. He had not jumped with his usual zest when falling four out in this year’s Gold Cup, and he didn’t impress everyone with the manner of his comeback success at Down Royal last month when he had 4lengths to spare over Sizing Europe. AP McCoy has never ridden the horse before but that is hardly an issue given the horse has hardly made the semblance of a mistake in any of his 4 previous victories in this great race.
Kauto Star (3.00) may not be as good as he once was but it is only 12 months ago that he, arguably, put up a career best performance when landing the corresponding race by no less than 36 lengths and with bullish noises coming out of the Paul Nicholls’ camp I feel history will be made. The great Desert Orchid fell in the 1991 King George in his bid for a fifth win but I take Kauto Star to go one better and to join the greats of the sport.
5-6 Kauto Star
13-2 Long Run
12 Riverside Theatre
14 Sizing Europe
16 Planet Of Sound
25 Albertas Run
25 The Nightingale
50 Madison Du Berlais
200 Ollie Magern
King George VI Chase: Betting without Kauto Star: ¼ 1,2,3:
10-3 Long Run
13-2 Riverside Theatre
7 Sizing Europe
15-2 Planet Of Sound
12 Albertas Run
14 The Nightingale
20 Madison Du Berlais
100 Ollie Magern
The Xmas Hurdle is the other feature race on the card with Champion Hurdler Binocular (2.25) looking to get back to winning ways having finished third on his reappearance in the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth at Newbury last month. One got the impression that Binocular would improve greatly for his reappearance and despite again finishing behind Starluck in the corresponding race last year won by Go Native Binocular can return to winning ways and the head of the market for the Stan James Champion Hurdle in March.
Christmas Hurdle: Prices from StanJames.com
4 Khyber Kim
10 Oscar Whisky
Secret World (12.40) looked a doubtful stayer at Newbury on his Hurdle debut but is likely to be played later by jockey Barry Geraghty this time and he can make the most of the weight he receives from Toubab who was such an impressive winner at Haydock last time.
Aiteen Thirtythree has never run right-handed but has looked a novice chaser of some potential to date but marginal preference is for Master Of The Hall (1.50) who looked worth following when beating Fredo at Ascot on his first start over the larger obstacles last month.
Our Bob (3.35) has had problems with his wind but he won’t be the only one over the Festive season. He jumped and travelled like easily the best horse in the race at Haydock last month but went out like a light. He is unlikely to reach the heights he once suggested he was going to in Ireland when trained by Willie Mullins but the hope is that the excellent Philip Hobbs can coax a little bit of improvement from his first run. If that is a case he could be extremely well-handicapped. Swansbrook looks the danger in a cracking finale.
Be lucky and stay warm