LONG RUN (3.10) gets a confident vote to repeat last year’s runaway success in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton. This year’s renewal of the traditional Boxing Day barnstormer sees a mouth-watering re-match with Kauto Star, who is seeking an unprecedented fifth win in the three-miler. Long Run has also shown a liking for the Sunbury track, the French-bred announcing his arrival on the British scene by romping to a 13-length success over course and distance in the 2009 Feltham Novices’ Chase. Sam Waley-Cohen and Long Run produced a faultless performance to see off Riverside Theatre and Kauto Star in last year’s King George and an action replay is on the cards. There was hardly a dry eye in the house when Kauto Star defeated Long Run in last month’s Betfair Chase at Haydock and the old boy remains a huge box-office attraction. He was ridden aggressively at Haydock and his fast, accurate jumping was a joy to behold. With eight runners going to post, each-way players may want to dabble on Somersby, who has been crying out for three miles on a flat track, and is trading around 12-1.
The aforementioned Feltham Novices Chase is usually the springboard to the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March and has been won in recent years by good horses such as Strong Flow, Ollie Magern and Jair Du Cochet. Two young heavyweights are going toe-to-toe this year, with the bookies just favouring Grands Crus over BOBS WORTH (2.00). The former, a gallant runner-up in last season’s World Hurdle, doesn’t have Big Bucks to contend with now and has already made a big impression over fences, scoring at Cheltenham and Newbury. However, he meets a very tough rival in Bobs Worth, so dominant in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last March. He collared Cue Card at Newbury on his first start over fences, despite being hampered quite badly at the third last fence, and trainer Nicky Henderson reported that his horse ‘would improve a lot for that’. Paul Nicholls saddles Silviniaco Conti, who is no slouch himself, and deserves to take his place in this illustrious line-up.
The Christmas Hurdle is another cracker, with Binocular bidding to repeat last year’s success. He had almost four lengths to spare over Donald McCain’s Overturn 12 months ago but hasn’t fired on all cylinders since that emphatic victory. Overturn has been kept busy and had another hard race at Cheltenham. The door may be open for ROCK ON RUBY (2.35) to put down a marker for the Champion Hurdle, as he remains a horse of great potential. He hammered Empire Lavant and Raya Star under top weight in a competitive Newbury handicap and the third horse came out to land the Ladbroke Handicap at Ascot last weekend.
Henderson had six horses entered for the opening novices’ hurdle but has whittled it down to sole representative TETLAMI (12.50), a clear-cut winner at Sandown earlier this month.
With 12 meetings in Britain and Ireland, punters will need to be up with the lark studying form but one to note at Wetherby is DIZZY RIVER (1.15), who quickened up stylishly to win at Musselburgh on Tuesday and is fancied to defy a 7lb penalty.
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