32Red King George VI Chase (Grade1) 3Miles Boxing Day

Inaugurated in 1937, and named for the new King George V1 following the abdication of his brother Edward, it ranks as the 2nd most prestigious Chase in the calendar after The Cheltenham Gold Cup, and has been won by most of the Greats of the Winter Game. A particularly striking feature of the contest has been the number of winners since 1972 who have repeated their success the following year. Ten is the current count – Pendil Captain Christy, Silver Buck, Wayward Lad (pictured), Desert Orchid, The Fellow,
One Man, Kicking King, Kauto Star and most recently Silviniaco Conti – all of which has to make last year’s hero, Might Bite of particular interest.

The Nicky Henderson trained 9yo is a winner of 7 of his 12 starts over fences, and the relatively lightly raced son of Scorpion, has demonstrated a steadily progressive profile throughout his 17 runs career. Following his victory in last year’s renewal of The King George, he was sent off favourite for The Gold Cup, and ran a marvellous race, pressing the winner, Native River, throughout, and only giving best when outstayed after the last. Following his hard race at Cheltenham, he showed what a tough individual he is 27 days later, winning the Grade1 Betway Bowl Chase at Aintree by 7L from Bristol De Mai. His reappearance in the Betfair Chase 32 days ago was most disappointing. Starting an even money favourite he trailed in last of the 5 runners, 28 3/4L behind the winner, Bristol De Mai, a performance too bad to be true, so expect to see a different animal on Wednesday, and with the Seven Barrows operation continuing in such good form, it won’t come as a great surprise if Might Bite does become the 11th animal to prevail in consecutive years.

Bristol De Mai’s victory by 4L over Native River in The Betfair Chase at Haydock was achieved purely on merit, and a similar effort on Wednesday would probably be sufficient to see him in the winners enclosure. However he could only finish 7th in last year’s renewal following an even more impressive performance at Haydock, and trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies reports him a very difficult animal to keep 100% fit. That said the vibes coming from Naunton are very upbeat and they’re more than hopeful that the flying Grey will arrive at the top of his game. If he does his current odds of 7/1 will look generous.

It is 23 years since One Man struck for the North, and Ruth Jefferson will be hoping to restore some pride to the top end of the country with her talented 7yo,
Waiting Patiently. He is unbeaten in his six races over fences and has shown a most progressive profile, culminating in his most recent victory over Cue Card at Ascot last February. Always in command,  he beat the Tizzard horse by 2 3/4L, and perhaps even more significantly, had the recent Caspian Caviar Gold Cup winner, Frodon, a further 15L back in 3rd. Top class form indeed which has earned him his current rating of 170. This will be his first attempt at 3 miles, but as a son of Flemensfirth, out of a beneficial mare, he could easily improve for the step up in trip, and as he has won 3 times after a break, including here at Kempton, his lack of match practice since February shouldn’t be a problem. His excellent young trainer reports him fit and well and with the yard in form there is plenty to recommend him.

Paul Nicholls has won the King George an amazing 9 times, and will be hoping that either Politologue or Clan Des Obeaux can round his record up to a nice even ten next Wednesday. The exciting Politologue has been mostly campaigned at distances between 2 and 2 1/2 miles, but his win over 2m5f at Ascot 32days ago offers connections some hope that Saturday’s trip might be within the compass of this top class animal. He beat the upwardly mobile Charbal by 1/2L and as the runner up went on to win a Huntingdon Grade2 by 8L from the useful Gods Owen, (gave 6lbs) the form looks pretty solid. However it has to be said that the Ditcheat runner looked all out when holding on by a rapidly reducing neck, to win the 2 1/2M Melling Chase at Aintree last April, and there has to be a serious doubt about his ability to stay 3 miles, particularly in a heat like The King George, so perhaps Mr Nicholls best chance of landing win number 10 lies with the 6yo Clan Des Obeaux.

The son of Kapgarde has finished 8 3/4L behind Bristol De Mai and 10 1/2L behind Might Bite in his last two races so obviously improvement is required, but memory of an excellent effort over an inadequate 2 1/2m at Kempton 13 months ago lingers. He attempted to make all, and but for a mistake at the last might have beaten the now rated 167, Whisper. One has the feeling that we have yet to see the best of the Dithpcheat 6yo and he might just supply some much needed seasonal cheer to part owner, Sir Alec Ferguson.

On ratings Native River is the best horse in the race and there were excuses at Haydock as he failed to get into any sort of a rhythm, but it was a similar story in his only previous Kempton appearance, The Kauto Star Novices Chase on this card 3 years ago, where after a poor round of jumping, he finished a well beaten 3rd.

Selection  : Waiting Patiently
E.W.           : Clan Des Obeaux
John Gray

Lucy Wadham's 8yo Le Reve has to go right handed to show his best and duly won at Sandown last time.

BetBright Chase 3m Kempton

Last week’s selection, Broadway Buffalo gave us a great run for our money in that Haydock marathon which was run on dreadful ground in a time 73 seconds slower than standard. He looked the likely winner coming to the last but just couldn’t find the stamina reserves to challenge Bishop’ Road on Haydocks glue like run in. Kerry Lee’s hero must now have serious prospects of getting a run in the National and on soft ground is definitely one to keep in mind.

While only two winners of this Saturday’s Kempton contest, Rhyme n’ Reason (1988) and Rough Quest (1996), have gone on to victory in the Aintree showpiece it’s roll of honour bears witness to some great performances. The immortal Desert Orchid won it in the twilight of his career in 1990 as an 11yo, carrying an eye watering 12st3lbs, and the win of Martin pipe’s oh so promising, but ill fated 6yo, Gloria Victis in 2000 will live long in the memory. (Killed in the same years Gold Cup)

Previously known as the Racing Post Chase it is a contest in which the higher rated animal has been very much to the fore, with eleven winners since 2000 carrying at least 11st. Indeed four top weights have prevailed in the same period. Philip Hobbs with four victories has been the most successful handler, followed by Paul Nicholls who has won it twice. Course form has been especially significant with ten of the last seventeen winners boasting winning course form. Age hasn’t been of great significance with winners coming from all groups between six and twelve, although the 8yo’s have the best record. The race is invariably truly run so non stayers may as well stay at home.

Philip Hobbs’s Champagne West, sustained an injury in the 2015 running of the Scilly Isles chase which kept him off the track for eleven months. He put up an excellent performance on his reappearance at Cheltenham in December, where despite a mistake at the 7th, he stayed on well to finish second to Village Vic, who won next time out. He was travelling nicely, again at Cheltenham four weeks ago, when short of room at the 8th he blundered and was pulled up two fences later. He has never run at Kempton but has plenty of form going right handed and as Grade 1 aspirations at the festival are entertained his mark of 154 on Saturday looks reasonable.

Racing off 2lbs lower than his hurdles mark the Harry Fry trained 7yo novice chaser, Thomas Brown, looks interesting. He made his debut over the larger obstacles at Ascot (2m3f) last November, and going off the hot favourite he duly obliged. He forged clear after two out and eased down he won easily. He ran well again at the same venue (2m5f) four weeks later, finishing second to Le Mercuery, in a race that has worked out well. Stepped up to 3m four weeks ago for his third chase, he demonstrated an abundance of stamina, when despite some indifferent jumping, he stayed on stoutly to win by 10L. This contest has been won by novices in the past, so with Noel Fehilly doing the steering on Saturday it would come as no surprise to see their record added to by this upwardly mobile ” Fry” 7yo.

Last year’s winner Rocky Creek was sent off the 2/1 favourite for a Grade2 chase at Newbury two weeks ago but disappointed, finishing 4th. However it was his first run since being pulled up over the National fences ten weeks earlier, and the outing may well have been needed. He is only 4lbs higher than last year so it would come as no surprise, coming from this yard, to see a much improved horse at the weekend.

Nicholl’s other candidate, the 10yo Ruben Cotter is interesting. Lightly raced with only six starts over fences he obviously has had his problems, but was quite impressive in a 2 1/2m chase over the course last March on his first run for 16 months. Racing off a mark of 132 and starting at odds of 14/1 he stayed on well and won comfortably by 4L. He was sent off 8/1 co fav over the Aintree fences (2m5f) four weeks later and finished a respectable 5th. Stamina won’t be a problem as he has won over 3m2f, so after his 10 month break and racing off a mark of 140 he may just be ready to run a very big race.

Lucy Wadham‘s (pictured above) 8yo Le Reve has to go right handed to show his best and duly won at Sandown last time. Racing off a mark of 144 he travelled really well and finished with gusto to see off Pete The Feat and Unioniste. As the latter has won next time out Le Reve looks really well treated off 149 and is one for the short list.

Colin Tizzard’s 9yo Theatre Guide showed he has the requisite pace and stamina for this when finishing second, albeit at a distance of 12L to Smad Place in the Hennessy last November. He can also boast winning course form, in a 2 1/2m chase, so running off the same mark as in his fine Hennessy effort, he is worth considering.

Neil Mulholland’s 9yo The Druids Nephew had a day in the sun when winning at last years festival, and for a time, four weeks later, looked like another was on the cards. He was leading the National field into “Valentines” the second time around, where unfortunately he came a cropper. He has been disappointing in his two outings since, and is now 9lbs higher than Cheltenham and Aintree so despite having form over the course he is passed over.

Selection : Le Reve

E.W. : Ruben Cotter

Lanzarote Hurdle 2m5f Kempton Saturday

Named after the great Fred Winter’s Champion Hurdle winner, and Kempton specialist, Lanzarote, who was a two times winner of the track’s premier hurdle race, “The Christmas”. He finished his hurdling career with a remarkable twenty wins from thirty three starts. He went on to become a top class chaser and was strongly fancied to win the 1977 Gold Cup and become the first horse to complete the Champion Hurdle, and Cheltenham’s premier race double. It wasn’t to be alas, as he was fatally injured in the race and we had to wait another nine years for the mare, Dawn Run to bring off that elusive double. The “Lanzarote” was run over 2m from its inception in 1978 until 2007 when the distance was extended to 2m5f, since when, some quite strong trends have emerged. The eight renewals we have had since 2007 have only been won on two occasions by animals with form at the distance, the other six have been bagged by animals improving for the step up in trip. Weight has been a significant factor and again only two have defied a burden of 11st or more. Age has been extremely relevant with youth having the best of the argument, particularly six year olds, who have collected on five occasions. Inexperience has been no bar to success with three of the last four winners having had only three previous runs over timber. The last eight renewals have also been quite punter friendly, with 9/1 being the longest S.P. returned, (Verasi 2007). So what of this years contest?

Paul Nicholls has won the race twice since 2007, and is represented this year by the 5yo Ibis Du Rheu, whose half brother Saphir Du Rheu, also in the care of the master of Ditcheat, won this two years ago. This lightly raced horse will be having only his sixth hurdle race, and only his third since joining the Nicholl’s Academy. A winner of a valuable 3yo hurdle at Enghien in 2014 he was campaigned at around 2m on his first two races in this country, but it wasn’t until stepping up in trip last time that he really showed his true potential. On soft ground at Newbury over 2m3f at the end of November, having been held up, he stayed on really well, gradually closing, but unable to quite get past the winner, Royal Guardsman. He did however have that good yardstick, Ma Filleule, 2 1/2L back in third. Bound to be well suited by Saturday’s extra two furlongs, he races off a generous looking mark of 135, giving him a nice racing weight of 10st8lbs, (his half brother won with 11st7lbs) and must be one for the shortlist.

Nicky Henderson’s 5yo Bivouac is another who seemed to be well suited by the step up in trip last time, when comfortably accounting for Ruacana and Lil Rockerfeller at Huntingdon over 2m 3 1/2f on soft ground nine weeks ago of a mark of 134. As Lil Rockerfeller won a Class1 handicap at Sandown next time out off a 2lbs higher mark the form looks rock solid, making the Henderson horse look reasonably treated off a mark of 141. Already a course winner, Bivouac is three from four going right handed and does seem to have plenty in his favour at the weekend.l

Harry Fry runs the 8yo, Unowhatimeanharry, who, having won his last three races heads the market. He looked a real staying type last time over three miles at Cheltenham (soft) where taking it up at the second last, he stayed on stoutly, and was driven right out to win by 1 1/2L and 9L from Final Nudge and West Approach. His terrific trainer has obviously found the secret to this horse and my only concern would be his ability to handle Kemptons sharp right handed track. All eight previous winners had a clockwise win on their C.V. but the Fry animal, despite five attempts going right handed has failed to hit the back of the net.

Irish trainer Alan Fleming who is having such a good season at home, sends over his 6yo Blue Hell, and he looked a serious tool when winning a highly competitive (115-133) handicap at right handed Fairyhouse seven weeks ago of a mark of 124. He was always travelling well on the soft/heavy ground, took it up before the last and won comfortably by three lengths from the favourite Diamond King. He has been raised an eye watering 17lbs, and the Fairyhouse race was over two miles, so there have to be doubts. However he did win twice in the French Provinces as a three year old over hurdles, and his dam is by Fairy King, giving plenty of encouragement that the step up in trip won’t be a problem. He did impress at Fairyhouse so is one to keep on the right side of.

Selection : Ibis Du Rheu.

E.W. : Bivouac.

Kempton Racing Tips Magnolia Stakes 2.15

While most of the media’s attention is focussed on Saturday's Lincoln meeting at Doncaster, Kempton's poly track, features three highly competitive and interesting contests.

Magnolia stakes at 2.15, (1m2f), sees the return to action of John Gosden’s St Leger runner up, Romsdal. Second time out last year He hacked up by 5L over the course (1m3f), prior to finishing a terrific third in the Derby behind Australia and Kingston Hill.

While most of the media’s attention is focussed on Saturday’s Lincoln meeting at Doncaster, Kempton’s poly track, features three highly competitive and interesting contests.

The Magnolia stakes at 2.15, (1m2f), sees the return to action of John Gosden’s St Leger runner up, Romsdal. Second time out last year He hacked up by 5L over the course (1m3f), prior to finishing a terrific third in the Derby behind Australia and Kingston Hill. He disappointed in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but redeemed his reputation with a brave second to Kingston Hill in the St Leger (1m6 1/2f). Obviously the distance of Saturday’s contest is a concern, but the way Romsdal travels, and his style of racing, would suggest that it may not inconvenience him that much, particularly when noting that his uber shrewd trainer carried off a similar trick, when winning this in 2012, with his St Leger winner Arctic Cosmos, who had collected the Doncaster prize two years earlier. Definitley one for the short list!

Marco Botti’s Solar Deity, if reproducing his run in a very valuable Lingfield handicap, behind Grandeur,(1m2f) last April, would be interesting. There despite being short of room two furlongs out he finished a highly commendable fourth, with one of Saturday’s opponents, Aussie Reigns, behind. He certainly demonstrated his wellbeing three weeks ago at Wolverhampton (1m1/2f) in a class 2 handicap. He ran on really well, to finish third suggesting that the step back up to 1m2f is what is required. With his trainer having such a good A.W. Season, he is worth considering.

The Ed Dunlop trained Red Galileo, having won over the course as a 2yo and finished fifth in the Derby has a lot to recommend him. He has failed to catch the judges eye since the Derby, but has put in some very sound performances, not least a shd defeat by Nabucco, and being beaten a nk by the two years older Clon Brulee. As Dunlop won this with a seasonal debutante last year, Contributer, Red Galileo is worth a second look.

Selection: Romsdal.

Racing Betting Tips BetBright Chase 3 Miles Kempton Saturday.

Lucy Wadham's 7yo La Reve would appear to have a lot going for him.

Lucy Wadham’s 7-y-o La Reve is our tips for the BetBright Chase.

With eleven of the last sixteen winners carrying 11st or more to victory, weight is no bar to success in this, which firmly puts the spotlight on the classier competitor. Indeed last years winner Bally legend, who won off a mark of 138, was the lowest rated in the last decade and three of the last ten winners, Farmer Jack ( 2005 ), Gungadu ( 2008 ), and Nacarat (2012 ), all scored of a mark higher than 150.

Tom George and Philip Hobbs have the best recent record, scoring twice in the last ten years, with Caroline Keevil, Harry Fry, Nigel Twiston-Davies, and Paul Nicholls collecting once. Course form has been a useful pointer, with ten of the last sixteen winners boasting a previous Kempton win, and it has to be said that the track certainly brings out the best in some animals. Favourites have had a desperate record, with only one succeeding in the last decade, and only three managing to finish in the first three. All age groups from seven to eleven have graced the winners circle in the same period, and earlier years have seen two six year olds win. Proven stamina has been important, with seven of the last ten winners having previously won over three miles. Good recent form has been shown by all except one winner in the last decade.

Lucy Wadham’s 7yo La Reve would appear to have a lot going for him. He won his last race ( Cl2 chase 3m1/2f Sandown ), by a comfortable 5l, from that good yardstick Theatrical Star, off a mark of 139 and doesn’t look harshly treated off seven pounds higher on Saturday. Successful on his only course appearance, ( 2m5f h ) he does seem to be particularly well suited by going right handed, with all his five victories having been acheived in a clockwise direction. Certainly one for the short list!

A winner of two of his five ventures over the larger obstacles, and three over hurdles, the Nicholl’s trained 7yo Easter Day looks well treated off a mark of 142, only 3lbs higher than his hurdles mark 139. He blotted his copybook last time out on trials day at Cheltenham four weeks ago, when travelling strongly he paid the price for a minor error at the third last and came down.

Some feel that he was an unlucky looser, but I’m not so sure. The winner Annacotty had plenty more in the tank, so whose to know? However on the plus side he can race off the same mark at the weekend. He has never won over three miles, but certainly wasn’t stopping when beating the subsequent R.S.A. Winner O’Faolain’s boy at Ascot ( 2m51/2f sft ) to whom he was giving 4lbs, thirteen months ago. A winner over 2m6f hurdling at Newbury and Ascot, He is unlikely to be found wanting on the stamina front, indeed may improve for the step up to 3m and is shortlisted.

Emma Lavelle’s 8yo, Fox Appeal, boasts a record of two course wins from four appearances, and ran second (beaten 10L), to the upwardly mobile Balder Success here in January. There are stamina issues, as the furthest he has won over fences is 2m41/2f,here at Kempton last November . He has won two 3m1/2f hurdles at Taunton, but Kempton’s 3m chase course, particularly, in races such as the King GeorgeV1 and Saturday’s contest, where they start racing in earnest a long way from home, can take some getting, so the jury is out on Fox Appeals stamina credentials.

Dr Richard Newland’s 9yo Ardkilly Witness is worth a second look. Another who prefers going right handed (all four wins going clockwise) is one of only three course and distance winners in Saturday’s race. ( last years winner Bally Legend, and Ballinvarrig the other two. ) After some lacklustre displays he bounced back to form with a battling performance over course and distance (January 10th), getting up to win by a shd to beat Masters Hill, with the 7/2 favourite Open Hearted 16L back in third. He unseated at the 3rd last behind La Reve at Sandown three weeks later, but may have been feeling the effects of his previous hard race, so off his mark of 139 it would be no surprise to see him involved at the weekend.

Course and distance winner Ballinvarrig, who was also placed on his only other course appearance, and trained by the twice successful Tom George, is of considerable interest. He had a hard race when winning over course and distance (Dec 27) off a mark of 126, and despite jumping errors ran well enough off his new mark of 133 to finish a battling on 6th (Ascot 2m51/2f). Returned to 3m at Kempton, with a nice racing weight of 10st 4lbs he is worth considering.

With two victories from four course appearances, both over the larger obstacles, Jonjo O’Neill’s Lost Legend catches the eye. It looked like a staying performance when he got up in the last stride to beat Cold March over the course (2m41/2f) when having his first run for six months ( Jan10) off a mark of 139. Turned out again two weeks later at Doncaster he finished a well beaten fifth. The race may well have come too soon, so racing off a mark on Saturday of 141 he looks quite well treated.

Selection: La Reve.

Danger: Easter Day.