I am going up nice and early as it is the season of goodwill and all that with the bets for Boxing Day.
There is as is tradition a bucket load or horse racing on Boxing Day and most of it, I would advise, is best left alone as you could find yourself pawning the Christmas presents when the shops re-open next week. There is of course though some top-class action mixed in with the devilishly tricky handicaps and a bet or two to be had.
I wanted to back Hope You Do at Wincanton but he won't be running annoyingly; keep an eye out for that one.
Best bets for the horse racing at Kempton Park
There are three at Kempton I have to back, sadly two are odds-on though. No presents from the Bookies this year, tight miserable sods they are.
At 1.55 we should see the highly anticipated clash between Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor in the 3m Grade One Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices' Chase. I am a fan of Bravemansgame and even when backing him over hurdles last season, as I did in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle for example, I mentioned more than once that I thought Chasing would be his game and he is two from two over the bigger obstacles thus far, both victories at odds-on. When they last met in the G.1 Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle I backed Bravemansgame but Ahoy Senor came out on top surprisingly, as shown by the fact he was 66-1! They are both big talents in the Novice Chase ranks this season but I am on Bravemansgame at the 5-6.
At 2.30 we have the Grade One 2m Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle. Tritonic clearly doesn’t get on with Cheltenham but right-handed flat courses such as this seem to be his game (did win going left-handed on the Flat). His best form over the sticks is here and at Ascot, won the G.2 Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle over this track and trip in February. He’ll need to improve again to win this though. Not So Sleepy dead heated with Epatante in the G.1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle last month and has obvious claims off the back of that effort; that was bar far the best performance he has ever put in though and it could be argued the mare was a little off her best form. Epatante was returning to action there following back surgery in the summer and will surely be fitter for the run. Talking about her earlier this week Nicky Henderson told reporters “Everything is tickety-boo........... I suspect we might get a very strong pace, which shouldn't worry her, but if we get no pace she should have the gears to beat them still." It looks like she may go for the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham rather than take on Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle and she is expected to prove her wellness here. I have the 4-5.
At 3.05 it’s the main even the Grade One 3m Ladbrokes King George VI Chase. I am a huge Clan Des Obeaux fan as any regular visitor to the site will know, I backed him for this in 2019 and 2020, I was on Bristol de Mai e/w in 2018. He loves it round here, suits him almost perfectly, and even though he aint been seen since April to my eyes he has a massive chance again. Paul Nicholls has said he felt last year's somewhat disappointing run when third was due to running on the heavy in the Betfair Chase a month earlier; not an issue this year as they have opted to head straight here. When Nicholls targets one he rarely misses. Clan won the G.1Betway Bowl Chase as he liked and then the G.1 Punchestown Gold Cup when last seen back in the spring and looks the solid option to my eyes. Talking earlier this month Paul Nicholls said "Clan is very fresh and well and he was mad fresh yesterday morning. It's a different preparation to what we have given him leading into the race before. Normally he has had a run before going to the King George but I think doing this will suit him better.” I have a bit of the carpet 3-1 about him regaining his crown. Frodon, Chantry House, Minella Indo and Lostintranslation all have claims, but also perhaps questions to answer. Is Chantry House this good? Will Frodon get his own way on the front this year? I doubt it. Will the sharp nature of the track suit Minella Indo? His best form, I think, is on nice big galloping tracks. Lostintranslation has been pulled-up both time he has run in this and his win in the G.2 1965 Chase last time aint top-drawer form. My old mate Matty mentioned Asterion Forlonge to me recently, but I missed the flashier each-way prices that Matt has, and I haven’t backed him. He was going well when tipping up in the G.1 John Durkan earlier this month and should follow the selection home.
Best bets for the horse racing at LeopardstownThere is one running out in the Emerald Isle that I want to back as well in the 2.20 at Leopardstown the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase. 2020 Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow is another annoyingly short but the six-year-old looks a class act. He won his sole start over Hurdles in November 2020 and then returned to action earlier this month winning a Beginners Chase at Punchestown despite a couple of mistakes, clearly learning on the job. At 4-5 he is very short but looks like he will be top-class. The Gordon Elliott trained filly Riviere D'Etel, looks the danger getting weight as she does.