Our racing expert marks your card for the televised Boxing Day action at Kempton
1:20 2m4½f (2m4f110y) 32Red.com Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap) (Class 3) (4yo+ 0-140)
I wouldn’t care to rule out any of the nine runners but this is no time to sit on fence – we need winners to help pay for Christmas – and REIGNING SUPREME could be just the job. He won two of his three hurdles races last season, beating the now 139-rated Strong Suit on the last of those at Newbury, and that was all a bonus as he has the scope and pedigree to make up into a better chaser. While this is his first run back, he did win first time out last term and his trainer Nicky Henderson loves to get one ready for the Christmas meeting here. He clearly has no qualms about pitching the six-year-old straight into handicap company on his chase debut, and that suggests he thinks the gelding is on a mark (134) he can exploit. As he’s a son of Presenting he won’t mind today’s better ground and he has the services of Nico de Boinville, so there’s lots to like and not least his bet365 price of 11/2.
1:55 3m 32Red Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (In Memory Of Nigel Clark) (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Just the seven runners but a decent renewal nonetheless. All bring winning form this season to the table and none have been as prolific as Black Corton, who has won six times since being sent chasing in June and has finished runner up on his other two starts. He’s sure to go well again but narrow preference is for BALLYOPTIC, who has four lengths to find with Black Corton on their running at Cheltenham in November. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge was staying on and about to make things interesting with the winner when clouting the last and that was uncharacteristic as he had generally jumped well in front, as he had when winning in his chase debut at Exeter under today’s rider Sam Twiston-Davies. The latter was sounding particularly bullish about the seven-year-old’s chances in his Racing Post column on Saturday, saying this was the Boxing Day ride he was most looking forward to and even advising readers to have a bit on now for the RSA Chase as ‘he will be shorter odds after he has run at Kempton’. In which case, it could pay to heed his advice: the selection is a top price of 11/2 with Betfair for the Boxing Day race and 25/1 with Hills for the Cheltenham race in March. Alan King’s Mia’s Storm heads the remaining runners having won her two chase starts in good style, although she wouldn’t want the ground any worse than good to soft.
2:30 2m (Winter) Unibet Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
The New One is making a quick reappearance after chasing home My Tent Or Yours at Cheltenham ten days ago, when he found the 6lb concession to the winner beyond him. This is a more level playing field in terms of weights and he’s run some of his best races at the track, albeit in defeat and that includes finishing runner up in this contest no less than three times. That frustrating run looks set to continue as he looks up against it taking on the reigning champion hurdler BUVEUR D’AIR off level weights. The latter horse made the perfect reintroduction when beating some inferior rivals in the Fighting Fifth and scarily (for his opponents) his trainer Nicky Henderson said afterwards that he’s come back into training ‘more professional’ and looking ‘more physical’. I take that to mean he’s going to be even better this season and it will be a real surprise if he’s turned over here at odds of 1/4 (Ladbrokes), as the remaining runners are out of their depth.
3:05 3m 32Red King George VI Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
I pinned my colours firmly to the mast of BRISTOL DE MAI a few days ago, with TEA FOR TWO flagged up as one for each-way backers, and you can read all about my reasons why here.
Kempton 1.20, Reigning Supreme @ 11/2 bet365
Kempton 1.55, Ballyoptic @ 9/2 Betfair
Kempton 2.30, Buveur D’Air-The New One straight forecast
Kempton 3.05, Bristol De Mai @ 4/1 Unibet / Tea For Two each-way @ 25/1 bet365 (1/5 odds, 1.2.3)
All odds were correct at time of posting.