Ben Linfoot walks you through a brilliant Boxing Day on ITV with four freshmen at Kempton, including Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.
GOSHEN – 12:45 Kempton
A barren December for quality jump racing in England means the appetite for Boxing Day extravaganza is huge and at least Ascot’s frozen Grade 1 Ladbrokes Long Walk Hurdle has been saved – meaning four Grade 1 on ITV’s Boxing Day card from Kempton.
It is Champ vs. Paisley Park fifth inning here and the veteran pair have set the standard, but fair, and the switch to a speed-promoting track like Kempton leaves both vulnerable to younger, faster footwork.
This could tip things in favor of GOCHEN, who has his quirks but has long seemed capable of earning a Grade 1 too, and that set of circumstances might just be the environment he thrives in.
He needs to prove he stays, but I don’t think the trip will be a problem for him if he gets into a good rhythm and the easier tempo might see him clear hurdles more fluently – which could be key to the hit.
McFABULOUS – 1.20 Kempton
Speaking of rhythm, McFABULOUS looks well placed to strike in the Ladbrokes Novice Kauto Star Year 1 pursuit for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden.
The eight-year-old has been hugely impressive over the hurdles on his only previous visit to Kempton and he has made a smooth transition to the fences, at least since being called off for his fencing debut, jumping very well on the way to victory in the John Francome. at Newbury last time.
He was no simple project for Nicholls, but Maestro Ditcheat relishes a horse like this and the cheeks look like a small but vital piece of the puzzle that now sees him blossom into a very capable novice hunter.
This form of Newbury sets the standard for fencing here and he can become a record sixth winner for the Nicholls yard in the race named after his King George legend.
SHAN BLUE – 1.35 Wetherby
At Wetherby it’s a searing renewal of the William Hill Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase, but Dan Skelton has an ace up his sleeve in the form of a likely favourite. BLUE SHAN.
This horse had the 2021 Charlie Hall Chase at this track at his mercy when miles cleared on a fall three and he’s only had the two races since.
One was in a hot handicap chase at Aintree at the Grand National meeting where he ran well in second (he hit a Sam Brown on point) and with his mark sitting on 148 he n It’s no wonder Skelton has targeted a return to Wetherby for redemption.
His horse has a formidable record and he can finally get some compensation for this unfortunate mishap from Charlie Hall.
CONSTITUTIONAL HILL – 1.55 Kempton
A Christmas treat in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle as we see HILL CONSTITUTION last step on the way to Champion Hurdle and there’s no arguing against it given what we’ve seen in Fighting Fifth.
It was the best display of hurdles seen in many years and it apparently has it all – including 12-pounders in hand from closest rival and stablemate, Spooky, even after taking into account the allocation of its 7 pound mares.
If he’s close to the form he was in at Newcastle, they won’t see which way he’s going here and a Kempton procession could well be on the cards.
Staggering, a two-time winner of this race, may be the best of the rest, but it looks like she can cut the size of the loss to 12 lengths from Gosforth Park, a task that won’t be easy here.
ROYAL MAYSHALL – 2.30 Kempton
Venetia Williams holds the key to the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase, but it might be worth backing her second string ROYAL MAYHOOD to cause an upheaval in the climax of Christmas.
It’s easy to see why stable mate L’Homme Presse found his way to the top of the market, as he amassed an impressive resume as a novice and seemed to have improved even further by carrying the highest weight. to victory in the repeat pursuit at Newcastle on a mark of 164.
There’s also the potential for more to come but all the juice has been squeezed out of his price at 15/8 and there’s just one downside that he won’t get away with this business if he adjusts left at its fences.
He might well need to be left-handed to be at his best, but at least his presence at the top of the bets gets us up on Royale Pagaille at 16s, because there’s more than a whiff of second string syndrome factored into these inflated prices.
The 20mm of rain on Friday and the threat of heavy showers is absolutely essential for this horse’s luck, but it looks like he is right and in such a scenario he is a massive player.
He has a flawless record in his last four starts on soft or heavy ground, including two wins from Peter Marsh at Haydock that give him as good a chance of form as any on the pitch under the likely conditions.
Add to that a handicap-hunting win at that 2020 Kempton meet, where he easily represented a few course specialists, and a super fresh record – which turns his 263-day absence into a positive – and his case becomes compelling. . In effect.
With Charlie Deutsch on L’Homme Presse, Williams turned to Tom Scudamore who won the King George on Thistlecrack in 2016.
He has a tidy record for Williams (8/41 20%) with one of those wins aboard Royale Pagaille himself when he stepped in for the race in the 2021 Peter Marsh, arguably the best performance in horse career.
With nothing else attractive on the odds on ITV Boxing Day races, and with fingers crossed at least eight of the nine hold firm, a hearty bet each way is required.
Preview published at 13:00 GMT on 24/12/2022
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