The weather has taken its toll, particularly with the loss of Wetherby today and tomorrow, plus tomorrow’s Welsh National card at Chepstow (transferred to 9 January) but it remains a spectacular day’s racing. The undoubted highlight is the best King George for years with no less than six realistic contenders.
12.50 2m Novices’ Hurdle
Altior*** (6/4) is head and shoulders above the rest in this one. Open Eagle could step up from his easy first outing but not enough to see off the favourite.
1.25 2m 4f Handicap Chase
2.00 Feltham Novices’ Chase (3m)
One of my favourite races but not up to the usual standard. Native River** (2/1) is a deserving joint favourite with Tea For Two and since I’m unconvinced by the latter this is a confident selection.
2.35 Christmas Hurdle (2m)
I am not in the least concerned by Faugheen‘s (***** 1/3) defeat in the Morgiana. There’s nothing wrong with being a bit below par on a first outing and he looked race fit on today’s Morning Line. I really cannot see him being beaten.
3.10 King George (3m)
I cannot support a horse that doesn’t jump straight so, with reluctance, I have to discount Vautour. Don Cossack has won six of his last seven but this is the toughest yet. He beat Cue Card fair and square at Aintree but he apparently favours good ground and I just can’t have him today. Silviniaco Conti is probably my most backed horse over the last four years but was beaten out of sight by the revitalised Cue Card in the Betfair Chase. Smad Place had the race his way in the Hennessy but I don’t think that coming on from that race is ideal and I suspect that the form is not good enough in this superlative race. Al Ferof is a fine horse and this would be a dream come true for Dan Skelton but it won’t happen. So it has to be Cue Card*** at a very appealing 9/2.
3.45 2m 5f Handicap Hurdle
I was going to go with Keltus, an initially promising horse that may yet have his day but 8/1 is too short. I’m therefore with favourite Sugar Baron** at a tempting 5/1.
12.45 2m 2f Maiden Hurdle
Vigil*** (8/11) is a good value evens favourite for Dermot Weld. A rare opportunity to oppose a WP Mullins up and comer (A Toi Phil) who ran only four days ago.
1.20 2m Juvenile Hurdle
It’s back to Mullins in this one for the bet of the day in the shape of Footpad***** at an excellent 11/4. This one is currently second favourite for the Triumph Hurdle and will displace Rashaan, who he opposes today. Rashaan is the default favourite having won the Bar One Hurdle.
2.55 2m 1f Novices’ Chase
I’m expecting an easy spin round for Douvan***** (8/15), even against the likes of Ttebob and Sizing John. This is an opportunity to make money on the current 6/4 Arkle favourite.
2.35 Kempton Faugheen
3.10 Kempton Cue Card
1.20 Leopardstown Footpad
2.55 Leopardstown Douvan
£15 x 2 (£30 stake) including hot pots for a potential £324.59.