We’re hoping to bash the bookies with five televised selections from Kempton and Wetherby for our Boxing Day racing tips.
The King George VI Chase is the highlight of ITV’s coverage and we’ve turned to PA’s Ashley Iveson for expert selections on that contest and a strong supporting card.
1.15 Kempton – SON OF CAMAS @ 6/1
Always looked likely to be a future chaser when falling just short of top class over timber and starts out on a decent mark in this novices’ handicap.
There were ground excuses for last month’s Cheltenham flop over hurdles on his reappearance and Son Of Camas remains a useful prospect on the strength of last season’s Newbury win over a decent yardstick in King Roland.
1.50 Kempton – SHAN BLUE @ 7/4 (nap)
Dan Skelton’s charge is fancied to make it three from three over fences in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
A useful novice hurdler last term, the six-year-old has already taken his game to another level since having his attentions switched to the larger obstacles, with slick and accurate jumping the hallmark of back-to-back wins at Wetherby.
Shan Blue faces a step up in class for his latest assignment, but has proven he stays three miles, which cannot be said of some of his chief rivals.
2.05 Wetherby – WINDSOR AVENUE @ 15/2
This eight-year-old is given another chance to prove his worth in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase.
He has won twice in bumpers, over hurdles and over fences for Brian Ellison and made a promising start to the current campaign when runner-up to Imperial Aura at Carlisle.
With the latter giving the form a major boost with a subsequent Grade Two success at Ascot, Windsor Avenue looked a leading contender for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham earlier this month.
However, he was hampered at the start and never really recovered, eventually being pulled up by Brian Hughes.
Ellison’s charge is clearly better than he showed at Prestbury Park and if he sees out this three-mile trip he is capable of making his presence felt from a current mark of 147.
2.25 Kempton – EPATANTE @ 1/4
The Christmas Hurdle appears a straightforward puzzle to solve, with Nicky Henderson’s defending champion impossible to oppose in our Boxing Day racing tips.
Epatante propelled herself towards the top of the two-mile hurdling division when winning this Grade One contest last year before shooting clear in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The JP McManus-owned mare looked better than ever when laughing at a race-fit Sceau Royal on her return to action in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and it would be a major surprise if she does not extend her winning streak.
3.00 Kempton – CYRNAME @ 9/4
Paul Nicholls’ charge can deny stable companion Clan Des Obeaux a King George VI Chase hat-trick in a fascinating renewal of this prestigious event.
Nicholls has dominated the Boxing Day showpiece over the last couple of decades, with four individual horses providing him with a record 11 victories.
This year, the Ditcheat handler fires a four-pronged assault, with last year’s one-two, Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname, joined by Frodon and Real Steel, although by the trainer’s admission, the latter pair look to be running for place money at best.
Clan Des Obeaux’s Kempton form is certainly a level above anything he has achieved elsewhere and Cyrname was firmly put in his place when 21 lengths behind 12 months ago.
That is a significant gap to bridge, but there is little doubt Cyrname was still feeling the effects of a gruelling Ascot tussle with Altior a month earlier, whereas this year he has had an extra three weeks to recover from a facile comeback win at Wetherby.
Indeed, it is almost a role reversal this time around, as Clan Des Obeaux was the one who ended up in a real scrap in testing conditions on his November reappearance, when chasing home Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai.
Cyrname put any questions about whether he stays three miles to bed in October’s Charlie Hall Chase, while it was also noticeable how much more tractable he appears to be, meaning it is unlikely to be a major issue if he is taken on for the lead.
It is worth mentioning that like Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname is two from three at Kempton and Harry Cobden’s mount, who is officially rated 5lb superior, gets the vote.
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