Traditionally regarded as the best jumps day outside the Festival, although these days there are a few other contenders, this year’s Kempton card is superb. The current going is good (good to soft in places) with no rain forecast and no strong winds.
I’m typing this on Friday evening so there may be changes between now and Monday in which case I’ll post an update. So here are my thoughts as matters stand.
12.55 2m Novices’ Hurdle (Class 2)
There are two unraced flat recruits in this, Bazooka and Mohaayed, both of which should be disregarded. The most experienced is the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Ballyhill. This one’s form is not good enough and the same applies to Maximus Maridius, Glaring and Port. That leaves the classically named Elgin and Jenkins**, the latter being the obvious selection, so the current 4/7 (5/1 bar) is no surprise. I wasn’t bowled over by his win in a Class 3 maiden hurdle last time out at Newbury in 25 November and the current 7/1 second favourite for the Supreme doesn’t appeal to me. If he is to maintain that place he needs a taking win here, which is entirely possible but I want to see him do it before getting interested for March.
1.30 2m 4f Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (Class 3)
This is an intriguing race with, currently, three joint favourites at 7/2 and the outsiders at 9/1. The Timeform top rated is Max Ward (7/1) who was third of four behind Altior (more of him elsewhere) in the hugely significant Henry VIII at Sandown on 3 December. He is unproven and I’m not a big fan of Tom George from a betting perspective.
Two Taffs was seventh of thirteen in the Haydock fixed brush hurdle and is attracting support but not for me, notwithstanding the Skelton trainer/rider package. Gold Present (sire Presenting) has an appealing profile, albeit that the form is very in and out and, ultimately, not for me. Remiluc is dismissed so that leaves two.
I like Sizing Tennessee and he is part of the exodus towards Colin Tizzard. He was 10 lengths’ second to O O Seven who flopped in his last outing. However he has the look of a chaser so the best may be yet to come.
Although form to date is not what I’d want and a headgear wearer I’ve taken to San Benedeto** (8/1). He’s not been mentioned by Paul Nicholls in his Christmas Betfair preview but I think he’s the winner of this and will become a graded chaser. Declared with cheekpieces and a tongue strap he definitely needs to improve but I think he will. I don’t know much about the breeding so it’s just based on what I’ve seen.
2.05 3m Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
This is the first of the three top races at Kempton. Frodon*** (9/2) gets half a stone over the field as a four year old and runs here on the back of winning the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at the Cheltenham International meeting. As the Racing Post says:
|Mid-division, headway after 11th, tracked leaders 4 out, went 2nd between last 2, ridden to lead after last, edged slightly left, kept on well, driven right out (op 12/1)|
So what might beat him? Anibale Fly (Tony Martin/J P McManus/Barry Geraghty) is the obvious candidate. Here’s what I think about Tony Martin. He tends to have winners at Festivals. they tend to be at 25/1 to 33/1. Today is not the day for Alibale Fly. I have to mention 6-y-o Royal Vacation (40/1) on the basis of Paddy Brennan’s positive view of him. He carries the Jean Bishop Cue Card colours and if you ignore the defeat to Politilogue (who is the star of the season so far) this King’s Theatre 6-y-o bay gelding has real place potential.
2.40 2m Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1)
Although I’m a fan of chases, this one is a Christmas cracker. It’s disappointing that Vroum Vroum Mag doesn’t line up (more of the Leopardstown fiesta will follow) but the declared runners make this an absolute Christmas treat. So let’s get rid of Gray Wolf River (credit for the prize money) and Ch’Tibello (useful but way out of his depth) and that leaves the hard contenders: My Tent Or Yours, The New One and Yanworth****. OK, here’s the low down. It was obvious that My Tent Or Yours was beyond his best last time out. The New One, although a fabulous horse, was always overrated, so we have to go with Yanworth (6/4). The worry is that he was being seen as a candidate for the Sun Bet Stayers’ Hurdle (by the way I’m delighted that it’s restored as the Stayers’ Hurdle as opposed to the World Hurdle) so this is a try out for the Champion rather than the Stayers’. Nonetheless I’m with the coming horse rather than the have beens and maybes and I’m pretty confident that Yanworth will deliver.
3.15 3m King George VI Chase (Grade 1)
Simply this: better than Christmas! This is the best recent King George, not in living memory (in my lifetime Pendil x 2, Captain Christy x 2, Silver Buck x 2, Wayward Lad x 3, The Fellow x 2, Desert Orchid x 4, One Man x 2, See More Business x 2 (really), Kicking King x 2, Kauto Star x 5 and Silviniaco Conti x 2) but the best head to head in years.
I think that the Tizzards think that they have a Gold Cup winner in the shape of Thistlecrack. Why else would they be declaring the horse for the King George rather than the novices’ chase on the same day? Paula and I bet on the horse at 25/1 in the novices’ hurdle at Aintree when he beat, notably, Vita Du Roc, Our Kaempfer, Blaklion, Alpha Des Obeaux and Roi Des Francs.
Silviniaco Conti*** is the forgotten horse in this race, at a current 25/1. Several bookies are currently offering 25/1, 1/4 the odds. That’s a gift:
Surely Silviniaco Conti is great e/w value for the King George at 25/1 first two 1/4 the odds?
— Martin Malone (@martinmalone) December 23, 2016
I I advise you to go for it!