We three kings of equine are..
Yes indeed. The festive horse-racing Christmas cracker has come round again. This year’s King George VI Chase at Kempton Park looks to be an absolute thriller with three powerhouses of National Hunt racing set to enthral race-goers in what could be a memorable renewal of the 3 mile classic. And this is not all of course. There is the The Coral Welsh National on the 27th December, which combined forms an enticing menu of mid-season festival racing.
And so to the big one. Nicky Henderson is bringing possibly his best ever hand to the King George and may well be eyeing a 1-2 finish with the participation of Might Bite and Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up, Whisper.
THE KING GEORGE VI CHASE
The Nicky Henderson trained RSA Chase winner is a warm order at 6/4 (Paddy Power). Favouritism is certainly justified after his one effortless win this season and his credentials have been proved in two top class events last season. Form is solid. His twice beating of Whisper, the Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up, in the last 6 months sets him aside as the senior novice of last season and he is well up to winning this on any surface.
BRISTOL DE MAI:
Without doubt, the staying chaser star of the season having notched up high profile wins in The Charlie Hall and Betfair Chases. But he is not without his critics. Many pundits have written off his chances of seizing an even bigger prize, believing he can only produce his best over bottomless ground and that he has only seen off minor rivals in reality. However, his galloping style and impeccable jumping is a major force to be reckoned with. My concern would be that a rejuvenated speedy Thistlecrack might put him to the test on a tight track like Kempton, which suits speed over stamina unless the ground comes up very soft. The forecast is for rain over Christmas Day (8mm) so the scenario looks positive for Bristol De Mai in that sense. 4/1 best (Ladbrokes, Coral)
Last season’s leading story over fences was no doubt the progress of Thistlecrack from minor novice company to winning this Grade One classic 12 months ago when he thoroughly beat his stable mate Cue Card by 4 lengths. His return from injury back in October was widely interpreted as a disappointment although jockey Tom Scudamore has maintained that he travelled well and was just short of match fitness, given the long absence. It’s anyone guess to how Thistlecrack will perform on the day and folly to rule him out given his hurdle form from 2 years ago and his overall potential. Best at 13/2 (Paddy Power, Boylesports). Overall, it’s a mighty difficult choice but Thistlecrack just about stands out as our main choice considering his relatively unexposed status against this kind of company and attractive price.
Great each way claims based on his two runs behind Might Bite and his thoroughly impressive second behind Total Recall in the Ladbrokes Trophy. For me, he maybe lacks a little courage at the business end but has to be in the reckoning. 9/1 bet365, Stan James.
THE CORAL WELSH NATIONAL, Chepstow, Tuesday 27th December
This mud-loving stayer’s marathon is always a fantastic betting heat and this year is no exception. Last year’s winner Native River does not take part but there’s plenty of quality left at this early declaration stage. The market is currently headed by the Nicky Henderson trained Beware The Bear who stayed on impressively to win the The Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle earlier this month. Best priced at 10/1 (William Hill).
Chase The Spud also put in an eye-catching performance at Haydock last month in heavy ground, beating the highly rated Robinsfirth by 6 lengths. That has translated into useful form since Robinsfirth went on to win a decent staying handicap at Cheltenham last week. 10/1 (William Hill, Paddy Power)
Rock The Kasbah absolutely loves the Chepstow course, having notched up three wins and a second in the last two years based on the four runs he’s had there. However those wins have all come at shorter distances but he did prove his staying credentials with a decent 6th in the Sandown Bet365 Gold Cup at the tail end of last season, over 3 miles 5. 9/1 (bet365, Coral)
Good luck with all bets over the Festive period!
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (12:00 22nd December 2017) and are subject to change.