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Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the fantastic menu of top-quality racing taking place over Boxing Day and 27th December. Plenty of horses with Cheltenham Festival aspirations are on the radar of course.
We check out the best bets and best odds for the grade one King George VI Chase taking place on Boxing Day at Kempton, along with the best odds from our partner firms for the biggest race in Wales of the year, The Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27th.
Best odds provided by bet365, William Hill, Bet Victor, Betfred and Boylesports.
The King George VI Chase, Boxing Day
The renewal of this second leg of the National Hunt triple crown features a strong Paul Nicholls contingent in the shape of race favourite Bravemansgame, Hitman and previous winner Frodon.
The Ditcheat handler’s record in this race is nothing short of formidable: he is the master of getting his horses ready for this prestigious race and all three of his entries have terrific credentials.
However., the classy L’Homme Presse and recent Down Royal Grade one winner and clearly revitalised Envoi Allen represent the chief dangers.
Proved to be a worthy contender over hurdles, despite some unfair criticism from some quarters over his finishing speed.
However, Bravemansgame has proved to be a revelation over fences, and this was capped with an emphatic win in the recent Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby where he put to the sword some creditable rivals including the useful Eldorado Allen and an off colour on the day Ahoy Senor.
Looks bound to come on for this impressive win and fits the profile for this kind of contest based on Nicholls’ previous winners. There has also been some very positive stable noise regarding Bravemansgame in recent days.
Our selection and best priced at 2/1 with William Hill.
This Venetia Williams trained 7-year-old is the archetypal dour stayer, very characteristic of the kind of horse which Williams has produced down the years.
Impressed many last season by winning the Brown Advisory at The Cheltenham Festival over Ahoy Senor, evidently his Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials are very much intact.
Opened his account well this season winning the Newcastle Rehearsal Chase, giving weight all around. I’m just not sure if the speedy nature of Kempton’s tight 3-mile course is the right option for him: he may need a greater test of stamina. 2/1 best with bet365, William Hill and Boylesports.
There is something in the category of dark horse about this second-string Paul Nicholls’ entry, to such an extent that some would argue he is probably the best of the trio.
To exemplify this, jockey Harry Cobden is still weighing up whether to plump for this horse or Bravemansgame.
His recent performance in a graduation chase at Haydock was impressive and indicates some improvement from last season. He is still very young and could be anything. Best odds of 5/1 with William Hill.
This Henry de Bromhead trained 8-year-old has certainly seen some ups and downs in the last two seasons but showed he is somewhere near back to his best with a very gritty performance when winning the Grade One Champion Chase at Down Royal at the end of October.
Connections are confident that this race is ideal after flirting with the options of returning the horse to the 2-mile trip.
Still a few question marks remain but if he were to reproduce the Down Royal run, he will be a viable danger to the market leaders. 7/1 with bet365, William Hill, Betfred and Boylesports.
He holds almost legendary status in the Paul Nicholls yard having battled to some memorable wins down the years including this race two years back. Maybe in his twilight years now but you will certainly get good each way value for this betting slip at 16/1 best with bet365, William Hill, Bet Victor and Boylesports.
It's a fairly open and competitive affair as usual. However, the preference just about goes to Bravemansgame who travelled so well in the Charlie Hall Chase. He is bound to come on for that run and looks to be more consistent than Hitman or Envoi Allen whilst L’Homme Presse may find this race a little too speedy for his taste. Frodon for the speculative each way option.
The Welsh National, 27th December
The big stayers handicap chase has produced some Grand National winners and the occasional Cheltenham Gold Cup victor down the years. Definitely one for mudlarks, the drainage limitations of the Chepstow course often produces a stamina-sapping challenge that warrants the most dogged and determined stayers in the business.
Venetia Williams is the undisputed queen of training mudlarks. In Quick Wave, she has produced another of those brilliant stayers who looks the perfect type for this challenge.
He ran an absolute blinder in a decent handicap at Sandown recently, staying 3 miles 5 furlongs impressively with something in hand. There is sure to be improvement and he’s well in on the weights. Our choice at 9/2 with Boylesports.
The Galloping Bear
Comes into this after crossing the line in front at the Haydock Grand National trial last season. He was subsequently disqualified after a banned substance was found in a sample.
Clearly stays the distance but inconsistency apparent on his CV but in the mix and should come on for his only run this season where he ran a modest third in a Carlisle handicap hurdle. 8/1 best with William Hill.
The Big Dog
The handicapper may have got to this Irish entry after impressive victories in the Munster National and Troytown Chase. Clearly the class entry in the race but it’s a big ask carrying 11.10 stone around this track. 7/1 with William Hill, Betfred, Bet Victor and Boylesports.
Ask Me Early
This Harry Fry entry has got some form based on his 13 length third to Coral Gold Cup winner Le Milos but he will need to improve a little more to figure here but he has won at this track twice before albeit over 2 miles 7 furlongs. 8/1 best with William Hill and Bet Victor.
Musical Slave trained by Philip Hobbs is well handicapped and shows consistency in his races (25/1 William Hill) whilst Movethechains trained by Gary Moore spends most of his time decimating weaker fields at Lingfield where he notched up 4 wins on the bounce last season.
Quick Wave looks the pick of the paddock: well handicapped and in prime form for a trainer who specialises in horses who can perform in this type of race. The Big Dog is a considerable danger if he can race under the weight given.
Other Key Races Over The Festive Period
The Christmas Hurdle, Kempton, Boxing Day
The most talked about horse of the season so far, Constitution Hill, continues his mission to stamp his dominance over the Champion Hurdle market.
Anything less than a 5 length win will probably be viewed as a poor performance such is the reputation of this Nicky Henderson trained mega star. Stable mate Epatante and recent Cheltenham winner I Like To Move It on board for ballast.
The Long Walk Hurdle, Kempton, Boxing Day
The rearranged Ascot long distance hurdle features another dual between Champ and the near legendary Paisley Park.
The Kauto Star Novices Chase, Kempton, Boxing Day
McFabulous for Paul Nicholls leads the market in this top class novices chase.
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (8pm 21st December 2022) and are subject to change.