Monday, December 24, 2012

Boxing Day at Kempton 2012

Looking back at previous posts penned at this time of year, I couldn't help but think 2009's offering, entitled ' Rescue required', still hits the nail on the head...

The persistent rain is likely to affect several cards (Huntingdon already lost) but, all being well, Kempton's traditional Boxing Day card will go ahead as planned where the King George VI Chase is the feature. Ten declared for what looks sure to be an intriguing renewal.

Last year Kauto Star beat Long Run one and a quarter lengths (Captain Chris a further 17 lengths behind third). Kauto was scheduled to parade before this year's renewal and, as far as I'm aware, the rather public tiff between owner Clive Smith and Paul Nicholls shouldn't affect that arrangement; whatever, the great horse won't be running in the race itself and Long Run is priced up favourite. Nicky Henderson's stable star was beaten by Silviniaco Conti on his seasonal debut in the Betfair Chase at Haydock four and a half weeks ago; after that run connections hinted they may change tactics - I'm expecting to see Long Run ridden more prominently.

I'm sure we've heard racing people say that if any horse is ever going to get a three mile trip, he'll get it at Kempton (or Ludlow even) - Cue Card and Riverside Theatre, second and third in the market, have never won over the distance which is a concern, although the trainer of the former, writing in the Weekender, thinks his charge will ('... and in his current form is a major player') while the latter, owned by the Jimmy Nesbitt Partnership, has been aimed specifically at this race.

Nicholls relies on Kauto's half-brother Kauto Stone this year; the lack of big-race experience may worry some but it's worth noting four six-year-olds have taken this in the past twenty years, three in the past decade - Kicking King (2004), Kauto Star (2006) and Long Run (2010).

Grands Crus took last year's Feltham over course and distance but it's difficult to be confident here after his disappointing run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup; Tom Scudamore appears to prefer this one to The Giant Bolster. McCoy rides David Bridgwater's Gold Cup second who, in my opinion, is still a little underrated.

I think Philip Hobbs could have Captain Chris in better form than last year - I would have considered an each-way wager had the ground been better -  but, with the rain around, The Giant Bolster is the each-way selection at 10/1 or bigger. The worry is all his chase runs have been on left-handed tracks.

Countrywide Flame is as tough as old boots and did this blog a favour winning the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle; visually that was most impressive. Connections offered the ground as the reason behind Cinders And Ashes' disappoinitng defeat that day - the stable are in better form now (four wins from nine runners in past week). I'm loathe to desert Countrywide Flame but a four-year-old hasn't won this since Kerawi (1997) so course and distance winner Darlan offers slightly better value and is the tentative selection in a trappy-looking affair.

Dynaste looks the one to beat in the Feltham but he'll be no price.

Have yourselves a happy little Christmas!

Postscript (added 24.12.12 21:00): Of course, as Tom Scudamore is retained by David Pipe, he has never been in a position where he has had to choose between Grands Crus and The Giant Bolster. Writing in today's Times, Scudamore says 'I am hoping that a recent breathing operation has restored his [Grands Crus'] powers.'

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Plenty of money for The Giant Bolster (6/1) in the King George but the selection never travelled a yard and was beaten passing the enclosures on the first cirucit.

It looked a hard enough race in desparate conditions and Captain Chris (16/1) appeared to have come from another parish to throw down his challenge to favourite Long Run at the last. Johnson got the better jump from his mount to go a length or so ahead but Long Run (15/8f) is ultra-tough and Mr Sam Waley-Cohen was a neck up on the line with Grands Crus (7/1) 14 lengths back in third.

Darlan (3/1) brought some Christmas cheer by taking the Christmas Hurdle in some considerable style off a slow pace; Henderson's charge is now outright favourite for the Champion Hurdle, as low as 3/1 with Ladbrokes and bet365.

Dynaste (8/13f) won the Feltham in the manner an odds-on shot is entitled to. David Pipe's charge has been installed the 5/2 favourite for the RSA Chase in March.