Hope you are enjoying the Xmas Festivities and a wonderful William Hill King George VI Chase, one of the highlights of the jumps season, to get our teeth into. Most of the packed crowd at Kempton Park will hope to see history being made as the evergreen Kauto Star tries to rewrite the record books by becoming the first horse in history to win this mid-season highlight a record five times.
Until his seasonal reappearance at Haydock last month few would have given him much of a chance but, in handing out a beating to Gold Cup winner Long Run, Kauto Star showed he was no back number despite being less than a week away from his 12th birthday.
In the corresponding race a year ago (although held in January because of frost!) Long Run was imperious and in following up at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup suggested he would dominate the top class staying chase division for years to come given he is still only a 6-y-o. So what went wrong at Haydock?
On the first circuit Long Run’s jumping was as good as I have seen it but on the second circuit his fencing went to pieces and at 5/4 he is too short for a horse who has a magnificent engine but whose jumping remains a concern despite those big race wins.
Long Run remains the most likely winner and the race is littered with horses stepping up in distance who have failed to stay the 3m of the race, but I have long thought this was the race for Captain Chris (3.10) and he is the ew recommendation.
The selection unseated Richard Johnson in the Haldon Gold Cup on his reappearance and has missed a couple of suitable engagements in recent weeks because he didn’t please trainer Philip Hobbs. The handler has given his Arkle winner the green light, however, and the hope is he will improve again for the step up to 3m for the first time.
Unbeaten in three starts over jumps at the track it is possible that his jumping won’t stand the test especially with a frantic gallop guaranteed by perennial front-runners Golan Way and Nacarat. The heart says Kauto Star, the logical call is Long Run but the each way shout is Captain Chris!
Note we at are betting ¼ odds all races at Kempton and have betting with and without Long Run in the King George.
It could be a great day for Long Run’s trainer Nicky Henderson who also saddles Bobs Worth in the Feltham and Binocular in the Xmas Hurdle but I just favour Grands Crus (2.00) in the former who has looked a potential Gold Cup winner in both starts over the larger obstacles and can maintain his unbeaten record over fences.
Knight Pass (3.40) was disappointing at Sandown last time but I think he’ll appreciate the step up in trip in the finale of what promises to be a cracking card. He looks potentially very well-treated off a mark of 125 and I believe connections still consider him a horse of huge potential. Christopher Wren, who has won his last couple of starts, and Like Minded are dangers in what should be a most informative race.
Wetherby stage a terrific card including a cracking renewal of the Roland Meyrick Chase in which, hopefully, Always Right (1.45) can continue his rise through the chasing ranks. A very impressive winner at Kelso on his reappearance this looks a suitable target for a possible tilt at the Grand National in the spring. Sarando had yet to be asked a serious question in the Hennessy when coming down last month and represents a big danger in another highly competitive event.
Keep an eye out for Quotica De Poyans and Carpincho in Tuesday’s 3m Chase at Kempton. The latter has another engagement at Leicester later in the week, but both horses are considered well-handicapped at present although the former will have to jump much better than he did at Bangor on his debut for Alan King’s yard.
A Happy Xmas from all at
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