Ben Linfoot guides you through a great boxing day on ITV featuring four Grade 1 classes at Kempton including the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.
Goshen – 12.45 Kempton
A December arid for quality jump races in England means the appetite for the Boxing Day extravaganza is quite big, and at least a Grade 1 Ladbrokes Long Walk Hurdle has been saved from frozen Ascot – which means four Grade 1 grades on the Boxing Day card for ITV’s Kempton.
it’s a Champs vs Paisley Park, Round 5 Here the veteran pair set the standard, but only that, and switching to a speed favorite like Kempton leaves both vulnerable to a set of smaller, faster legs.
Things can swing in favor goshen, who has his quirks but has long seemed capable of getting top notch as well, and this set of circumstances may be the environment in which he thrives.
He has to prove his staying power, but I don’t think the ride will be an issue for him if he finds himself in a good rhythm, and an easier rhythm might see him hit a fluent snag – which could be the key to success.
McFapoulos – 1.20 Kempton
Speaking of rhythm, McFapoulos He looks well placed to strike at Ladbrooke’s first class chase for Kauto Star Novices by Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden.
The eight-year-old has been hugely impressive as he cleared hurdles on his only previous visit to Kempton and has moved seamlessly to the fences, at least since he was stopped on fencing debut, jumping well on his way to victory in the John Francome. In Newbury last time.
It wasn’t a straightforward Nicholls project but Maestro Ditchheat enjoys a horse like this and the cheek chops look like a small but vital piece of the jigsaw that now sees him blossom into a very capable junior chaser.
This Newbury model sets the jousting standard here and can become a record sixth Nicholls Square winner in the race named after the legendary King George.
Shan Blue – 1.35 Weatherby
Finished at Wetherby, it’s a cracking renewal for the William Hill Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase but Dan Skelton has an ace up his sleeve in the form of odds-on favourite. Shan Blue.
This horse had the 2021 Charlie Hall Chase at this course at his mercy when the miles were clear when he fell three times and he has only had two runs since.
One of those was in hot pursuit to handicap Aintree at the Grand National meeting where he ran well into second place (a collision with Sam Browne) and with his mark on 148 it was no wonder Skelton had targeted a return to Wetherby for salvation.
His horse has a great new track record and he can finally get compensation for Charlie Hall’s unfortunate accident.
Constitution Hill – 1.55 Kempton
A Christmas treat in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle is top notch as we see Hill Constitution The latest move on the road to the Champion Hurdle and impossible to oppose given what we saw at Fighting Fifth.
This was the best showing steeplechase seen for many years and seemed to have it all – including 12 pounds in the hands of nearest competitor and stablemate, Epatante, even after factoring in an allowance of 7 pounds for mares.
If he’s anywhere near the level he was at at Newcastle, they won’t see the way he’s going here and a Kimpton parade could be on the cards.
Epatante, who won twice in this race, could be the best of the rest, but looks like she can reduce the size of the defeat 12 lengths from Gosforth Park, a task which will not be easy here.
Royal Mayhood – 2.30 Kempton
Venetia Williams holds the key to the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase, but it could be worth supporting her second series Royal Mehood To cause disruption in the highlight of Christmas.
It’s easy to see why stable L’Homme Presse has found his way to the top of the market, amassing an impressive resume as a junior and looking to improve again when he carried great weight to victory in the Rehearsal Chase in Newcastle. Mark 164.
There’s also the potential for more to come, but all the juice has been squeezed out of its price at 15/8 and there’s just a tease that it won’t get away with it at this company if it adjusts when left in its walls.
He may need to be left-handed to be at his best, but at least being at the top of the pot allows us to get a Royale Pagaille at 16s, where there’s more than a whiff of the concomitant second-string factored in at those inflated prices.
A 20mm of rain on Friday and the threat of more torrential rain is absolutely key to this horse’s chance, but it looks like he’s got his ground and in such a scenario he’s a huge player.
He’s had a flawless record in his last four starts on soft or heavy ground, including two wins for Peter Marsh at Haydock which give him as good a chance as any on the field in possible circumstances.
Add to that his win in the handicap chase from that meeting at Kempton in 2020, where he took two course specialists with ease, and a remarkable new record – turning his 263-day absence into a positive – and his case becomes compelling. In fact.
With Charlie Deutch on the Bryce lum, Williams turned to Tom Scudamore who won King George at Thistlecrack in 2016.
He has a Williams-ranked record (8/41 20%) with one of those wins coming aboard Royale Pagaille himself when he stepped into the ride in 2021 Peter Marsh, arguably the best performance of the horse’s career.
With nothing else as attractive as ITV’s Boxing Day racing, and with fingers crossed at least eight of the nine standing their ground, a solid bet is required each way.
Preview posted at 1300 GMT on 12/24/2022
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