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Racing National Hunt Boxing Day preview

WITH racing on the horizon in this country again, hopefully I will be previewing some live Saturday racing very shortly.

The main problem has been this Tory government. They have simply faffed around for the past few weeks when other countries have recognised that horse racing could and should be one of the easier sports to present back into the public domain behind closed doors given its logistical set-up.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has also been very fragile in its decision-making, which has led to several high-profile trainers criticising its lack of leadership, and indeed its top man has announced his resignation as well.

If we don’t get horse racing back in the short term it will do irreparable damage to the industry and totally ruin the current turf flat season when it could be, on health grounds, back in full swing.

In what I hope will be the last of my National Hunt previews, hopefully the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby and Royal Ascot will be on these pages shortly, it is time to concentrate on the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

We all know that it takes a very special type of animal to win this three-mile Christmas showpiece and very few staying chases double up in the Sunbury-On-Thames feature and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. That is due, in the main, to the very different characteristics of the two tracks and indeed being able to bring a horse to its peak first at the back end of December and then in the second week in March.

And the best example of that is the current holder, now chasing a hat-trick of King George wins, the Paul Nicholls-trained CLAN DES OBEAUX.

His high cruising speed is simply made for Kempton, similar to that of a Wayward Lad, Silver Buck and Desert Orchid. And if he does get into a rhythm and fences fluently he also has a potent turn of foot at the end of a well-run race.

Many could argue that the 2019 renewal simply fell apart with Lostintranslation having a breathing problem, Cyrname knackered from his Ascot slog and the other two runners simply outpaced.

However, there is no denying the manner of his dominance that afternoon and you could readily argue that he should be a deal shorter than the top price of 11/2 on offer and represents an each-way play to nothing.

The argument against that is that the novices from last season will make this division a lot stronger with a bundle more strength in depth, hence the relatively open shape to the betting.

Lostintranslation is obviously worth another chance after he bounced back in the Gold Cup and his style of running is in fact very similar to the current holder. He rates third best for the sake of this preview.

In contrast I think that both of the Nicky Henderson runners, Champ and Santini, may well find the Kempton test a wee bit too sharp.

Both are out-and-out stayers, Santini the better jumper, but both are much better suited to the stamina test supplied by Cheltenham’s Gold Cup over an extra two-and-a-half furlongs.

So the biggest danger to the top two in the betting at double-figure odds could well be ALLAHO who simply got embroiled in a two-way battle from some way out in the RSA Chase and paid for that effort on the long run to the line.

Willie Mullins hasn’t had many runners in the big race, Footpad was a relative outsider last year, but this son of No Risk At All is, in my mind, made for this test.

He likes to race prominently, which I think is always a positive, and jumps fluently, the only real mistake he made at Cheltenham was at the 12th, and with only three chases under his belt the best is certainly yet to come. 

I think the top price of 14/1 looks very fair each-way value as a back-up to the favourite and of course he is trained by the maestro!


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