I would just like to start by saying a very merry Christmas to one and all. Sorry for a lack of posting in the lead up to the festive period! The lack of racing and the busyness of the holidays just got in the way. Blog will be back in full swing as per.
First and foremost I am really looking forward to the hurdling debut today of NEW YEARS EVE in the first at Kempton. He is a horse with immense potential over hurdles on the back of a bright bumper season last year where he was arguably unlucky not to win the champion bumper at the festival. This however is not the most ideal introduction to hurdling today as he comes up against the potentially smart River Maigue and the forecast heavy ground. I am sure whatever he achieves today he will firstly come on for the run and secondly will improve for better ground another day. I have to back him today just in case he proves to be very smart.
THE WILLIAM HILL KING GEORGE – 3.10 KEMPTON PARK
A fascinating renewal of the feature Christmas race today that also has a slightly strange feel to it as it is the first time in a long time I am not wearing my Kauto Star T-Shirt and scarf! Defections in the last few days mean that Long Run is now a very warm favourite for Nicky Henderson and Sam Waley-Cohen. For many people he is their festive banker but for me I just can’t have him. In races where they go really quick at this level his jumping is just not good enough and he has no turn of foot. It’s all consistent one paced stuff and I think he is too short and very vulnerable.
My selection for the race has been the same for a long time and has been my first real ante-post bet for ages. I think that CUE CARD has outstanding claims this afternoon and is ready to come of age. Everyone around me is bored with listening to me tell them how good I think he is. Let’s just have a look at why? Well as a novice chaser last season he was the only horse to get anywhere near Sprinter Sacre over a trip that is never going to be his optimum. He gave Silvianaco Conti and Walkon solid beatings off level weights before being beaten a short head by Bobs Worth at Newbury giving him 7lb over two and a half miles. All of this form stacks up very well and we have already seen this winter that the second season chasers seem to be a step ahead of the older guard. He looked a horse that had matured massively when winning the Haldon Gold Cup on his re-appearance by 26 lengths.
The one question mark that all pundits throw at you is the question about the trip. It is my only concern but on breeding he should get it all day. Many ex winners of this race have had their stamina questioned in the past only to go on to being multiple champions. Fingers crossed that he does get the trip, Joe is patient with him and he has too much tow for the one paced Long Run. I also happen to think that the Giant Bolster will beat Long Run too……..
Of the others I hope that the breathing operation has a positive effect on Grand Crus. It will be good to see the big grey back to his best, although that may not actually be good enough to beat a couple of these. I think that they will go to quick for Riverside theatre and although he goes well fresh, he may get too far behind.
The Christmas Hurdle (2.35) is a fascinating renewal. Having backed Cinders and Ashes for the Champion Hurdle I was disappointed with the outcome at Newcastle. I can’t really see him reversing the form on this ground although I hope he does. Darlan is interesting but he has been taken out because of poor ground several times already and this has the makings of a two-horse race for me as Darlan is likely just going to get a run.
KATKEAU went into more notebooks than Frankel after his British debut at Haydock last time. He really looks a cracking bet at arounnd 5/2 this afternoon and I’ve popped him into a few multiples for good measure.
I hope everyone has a cracking boxing day! Enjoy the festivities…..just about to crack open the first beer!
COME ON CUE CARD!!!