A POTENTIALLY classic renewal of the King George awaits at Kempton on Boxing Day with MIGHT BITE aiming to defend the crown he won in such brilliant style last year, but it won’t be easy against some up-and-coming contenders.
For many this three-mile chase is a race that really challenges the very best and is probably second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in terms of prestige when it comes to jump racing.
WAITING PATIENTLY has proven to be a terrific horse for Ruth Jefferson over the past year and has long been aimed at Kempton, which has to put him in the frame to win the King George.
The hugely talented MITE BITE is a warm 11/4 favourite for trainer Nicky Henderson with local leading bookmaker Carrigill’s, but another runner to consider is BRISTOL DE MAI, who was last seen scorching to victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and is hoping to complete the second leg of the famed triple crown.
There is always a decent-sized field for Kempton each Boxing Day and we are expecting 2018 to be no different, with other contenders including NATIVE RIVER and the grey POLITOLOGUE who is stepping up in trip for Paul Nicholls after winning the 1965 Chase at Ascot.
Cheltenham Gold Cup hero NATIVE RIVER got the better of MIGHT BITE at Prestbury Park last March and comes into this race off the back of a perfectly good performance in the Betfair Chase last month on seasonal debut.
A best industry price of around 7/1 at the time of writing is an insult to a horse who never runs a bad race. The Colin Tizzard star has top-class recent form in the book, jumps and stays, and can put these potentially classier horses to the sword with another front-running masterclass.
Tomorrow’s (Saturday) Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot will be a real stamina test and may find out the short-priced favourite CALL ME LORD in his first run of the season over three furlongs further than he has ever gone before. This brings last year’s winner and very strong stayer SAM SPINNER right into the mix.
In the Silver Cup at 3pm ACTING LASS can play a starring role, especially if more rain falls as he relishes plenty of dig and looks to be a stayer going places. Last Saturday WESTERN RYDER ran a creditable third to Brain Power, who on official figures had almost a stone in hand, and has a real chance in the closer.
As previously advised, don’t forget to back NONIOS, who can bring some Christmas cheer at Wolverhampton, also on Boxing Day.
CARRIGILL’S NAP (Stake returned as a free bet if selection does not finish in the top 4): BENATAR, Saturday, 3.00, Ascot.
AUGUR’S BEST BET: NATIVE RIVER, Boxing Day, 3.05, Kempton.