The Boxing Day card at Kempton rarely disappoints and this year is no exception – it looks a cracker!
12:50 – Thomas Darby 5/2 (B365) **NAP** 2pts win 3rd -2pts
The opening race promises to be an absolute humdinger with last time out SimplyHorseTips NAP winner Rouge Vif stepping up in class following a ten-length victory at Southwell earlier in the month. The second in that race has won since, and he has improved for each of his three runs over hurdles so could still improve further and deserves to take his chance. If there were three places available I’d have been tempted to have an each-way play at the prices, however with just the six runners I fear he may just come up short.
Nicky Henderson has won this race three times since 2009 and runs Mister Fisher who won over course and distance in a bumper on debut and ran an excellent race when second on his first run over hurdles last month. Entitled to improve for that effort, he looks slightly over-priced at current odds especially considering he should have conditions to suit.
The Big Bite is unbeaten in two since going over hurdles, the lastest of which came with a nineteen-length demolition of rivals in heavy ground at Haydock last month. Tom George and Noel Fehily boast a 32% winning strike rate when teaming up in 2018 and it is difficult to dismiss their runner here based on his last performance, however his wins have all come on softer ground so with the ground likely to be good-to-soft at worst we may not see the best of him today.
Didtheyleaveuoutto and Thomas Darby had a great battle at Ascot, pulling five lengths clear of the remainder of the field, and were only separated by a head. Didtheyleaveuoutto held on well to bring his record to four wins from five (his only defeat came in the 2018 Champion Bumper) and his jockey has won seven from twelve in the last twelve months at the course so it would be no surprise to see him put in another strong performance here today. That said, Thomas Darby raced quite keenly and put in a couple of novicey jumps yet was still battling it out at the end. In receipt of 3lbs today, if he can settle and put in a clear round of jumping I would expect to see him reverse that form and for that reason he is the selection in the opener.
13:20 – Glen Forsa 9/2 (PP) WON (SP 7/1)
As with the opener, Nicky Henderson has an excellent record in this race and looks to have two strong candidates in a bid to win again. Turtle Wars was badly hampered on a couple of occasions on chase debut and better can be expected with more luck in running today, while Lough Derg Spirit is a course and distance winner over hurdles and made the perfect start to his chasing career with a seven-length victory at Wetherby in October. Today sees his first run since wind surgery but if that proves to be effective then he looks the most likely of the two.
Glen Forsa has gone up 10lbs for a 2-length victory on chase debut but has been in great form since returning from an almost two-year absence (posted two placed efforts over hurdles before winning last time out). He drops back in trip for today’s race, but should get a decent pace to aim at and can be expected to improve on only second run over the larger obstacles, going one better than stablemate Mister Whitaker managed in this race last year.
13:55 – Bags Groove 5/1 (PP) Lost
Another fantastic (and extremely competitive) race to get stuck in to! All eyes are likely to be on early RSA favourite Santini following his Grade 2 victory on chase debut. He beat subsequent Grade 2 winner Rocky’s Treasure with the minimum of fuss and his only career loss to date came when third to Kilbricken Storm in the Albert Bartlett at last years’ Festival so with four wins from five and a high-class chase victory already to his name it is no surprise to see him a short price for this race today – he should prove tough to beat.
That said, there are a couple of interesting runners who could mean he doesn’t get it all his own way. Topofthegame almost refused to race on chase debut, giving a decent field a twenty-length head start, so to finish ahead of Black Op and just three lengths behind Defi Du Seuil suggests that he could be a force to be reckoned with if jumping away on terms.
Another who deserves to take his chance is Bags Groove who is unbeaten in three over fences this season, winning a Grade 2 at Wincanton in November (beating the highly regarded Secret Investor by nine lengths) and following up with an excellent display of jumping from the front to take another decent-looking contest at Huntingdon earlier in the month, proving in the process that he stays three miles. Arriving here in excellent form and having a prior win at the course under his belt, he could get an uncontested lead and be difficult to peg back so looks to be the biggest danger to Santini…. at the prices i’m happy to take the chance.
The Worlds End is two from three over fences and was a ready winner last time out, winning by over twenty-five lengths at Cheltenham. He may prefer a slightly longer trip to be truly effective, but will likely have a good pace to aim at and as a prior Grade 1 winner over hurdles he shouldn’t be dismissed.
A final mention must go to La Bague Au Roi who gets a handy 7lbs mares’ allowance for this race. A winner of two from two over fences, the latest of which came in a Grade 2 race on good-to-soft ground, she is again partnered by champion jockey Richard Johnson who has five wins from six when in the saddle, the prior course and distance winner over hurdles who could put in a good performance.
14:30 – If The Cap Fits 12/1 e/w (B365) Lost
15:05 – Waiting Patiently 4/1 (sky) **NB** 2pts win Brought down -2pts
Bristol De Mai put in a commanding performance to beat Native River, Thistlecrack, Clan Des Obeaux and Might Bite in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month. His best runs have all come towards the beginning of the season so it would be no surprise to see another big run here, although it has to be said that he doesn’t always perform quite as well away from Haydock.
Last years’ winner Might Bite can be expected to improve for the run last month and is a high-class performer over three miles. That said, he has finished behind Gold Cup winner Native River on the last two occasions they met and I find it difficult to see why there is such a big difference between the two in the early prices.
There is no doubt that Native River commands the utmost respect. I would be surprised if he finished outside the top three but with his ultimate aim being to retain the Gold Cup in March I would be surprised if connections went all-out with him here.
Paul Nicholls has won five of the last ten renewals and runs Politologue who is unbeaten in two at the course and is an extremely consistent performer. He steps up in trip for todays’ race but is classy enough to sneak a place if his stamina holds out.
With this we turn to Waiting Patiently who is unbeaten in six over fences and was last seen winning the Betfair Chase in February, beating the 2017 winner Cue Card and subsequent Graded winners Frodon, Top Notch and Traffic Fluide in the process. Today sees a step up in trip but I am expecting the extra distance to suit, and the eleven-month break shouldn’t cause issue as he has won first time up for the last two years, both on the back of similar breaks. This will undoubtedly be his toughest race to date but I think Ruth Jefferson’s runner has what it takes to win here today.
15:40 – Stowaway Magic 12/1 e/w (PP – 4 places) **3B** 1pt e/w Lost -2pts
Stowaway Magic gets the nod in the Lucky Last as he is 2 from 2 at the course, has 2 wins and a place from 4 at the trip, and is 2lbs below last winning mark. He failed to fire over an inadequate trip last time out but was a 13-length winner over today’s trip on penultimate run and should prove better now stepped back up in distance.
Shortlisted runners away from Kempton…
11:55 – Dark And Dangerous 10/1 e/w (PP) Lost
- 4 wins & 2 placed from 11 at Sedgefield – won here on Boxing Day 2016
- 3lbs below last winning mark & has won in Class 4 races previously (today’s race is a Class 5)
- Should be race-fit following a spin on the AW at Newcastle earlier in the month
12:55 – Frankie Ballou 7/1 (B365) Lost
- Failed to fire in two runs so far this season but is back down to his last winning mark, he drops in Class (50% winning strike rate in this Class) for today’s race and returns to a course where he has 3 wins & 1 second from 4 over today’s trip
12:30 – Sounds of Italy 3/1 (sky) Lost
- Has raced 3 time over fences since joining D Skelton, producing 2 wins from 2 over this trip both on soft/GS ground, & a decent 3rd over a trip too far in the other (in a race has produced 2 subsequent winners)
- Trainer 45% winning strike rate in the last 3 years over fences at the course (11 wins from 24)
14:10 – Lake View Lad 9/2 (sky) WON (SP 5/1)
- Listed winner last time out, beating Captain Chaos by almost 3 lengths on first run since April. Jockey H Brooke rode him to victory and rides again today
- 3 wins & 5 placed from 10 over fences
14:00 – Kilfinichen Bay 6/1 (B365) Lost
- Won at Sedgefield last time out, up 4lbs for that effort but jockey claims 3lbs
- Has won 4 from 7 over similar trips
- Is well-treated on old form having won off a mark as high as 132 in the past (races off 117 today)
15:10 – Kupatana 4/5 (B365) Lost
- Extremely impressive winner on chase debut at Kempton, putting in a fantastic round of jumping.
- Not quite so good dropped in trip last time out – better expected now stepped back up in trip
26/12/18 PROFIT/LOSS: -6pts
DECEMBER PROFIT/LOSS: -17.5pts
NOVEMBER PROFIT/LOSS: +7.9pts
HISTORIC & ROLLING RESULTS (all updated at the end of each month)
2018 PROFIT/LOSS: +73.31pts
2017 PROFIT/LOSS: +76.17pts
2016 PROFIT/LOSS: +237.55pts
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 2015: +684.99pts