Very little time is left now for a preamble. I still fear that the medical panjandrums will force the Government’s hand and my SPAD-based tip of a lockdown on 28th December for three weeks, has still not been rescinded. Still and all, we kept Christmas Day which for us was spent away from the tip, the day saved by the kindness of friends who produced beautiful food including a homemade Christmas pudding that made the word sublime look trite. The Noble Lord provided an excellent Burgundy with some real depth plus a charming Sauternes and a decent 2000 colheita Port from a small estate. The evening was spent with Pavarotti. If you have access to Catch Up or whatever it is called, Ron Howard’s documentary simply called Pavarotti was masterful, emotional and revealing. A stunning piece of film work about a remarkable man with charisma, kindness, generosity and charm, only outmatched by his supreme talent.
While none of those words has ever been used about myself, I like to think that my talent with the lucky selecting pin, remains a source of comfort as we end the year.
Sunday 26th FEAST OF ST STEPHEN
1:20 KEMPTON Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Novices’ Limited Hcap Chs Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 2m4½f 8 run
I can’t be having KILLER KANE on current Tizzard form – their dry spell continues and this quite expensive horse has yet to deliver any clue as to his assumed ability. YOUR DARLING made an impression on his winning debut, for Ben Pauling but failed to fire next time out when carrying 8lbs more The third in that race has won twice since, which gives the form a nice warm glow, but he then ran at Aintree when favourite and frankly I’ve seen blocked drains run quicker. I had JACAMAR in the notebook after his chasing debut, but Milton Harris seems to specialise in keeping him in very small fields. In three races he’s met just seven horses – my shower is more crowded than his runs. Is there a reason? Tom Lacey runs “Seconditis” SEBASTOPOL whose new trick is to fall over when the race is in the bag – but he gives weight to everyone and I’d like to see him look less sloppy before backing him. Also, it was a crashing fall, and confidence needs to be restored to all parties. Nicky runs two including the joint-favourite BOTHWELL BRIDGE with Nico de Boinville. He looks a solid proposition, but the money has come for Paul Nicholls’ DANNY KIRWAN – money which now has him at joint-favourite around 5/2. His chasing debut at Cheltenham can be ignored as the general consensus was that he would need the run. He did, and it was still a decent performance. On this ground and going right-handed, I think he looks a decent suggestion. I might stick JACAMAR in for a forecast.
DANNY KIRWAN Win – JACAMAR e/w and a forecast
1:55 KEMPTON Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chs (In Memory Of Nigel Clark) (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m 4 run
On paper, this looks between AHOY SENOR and BRAVEMANSGAME. Newbury’s Grade 2 chase at the Ladbroke Chase meeting saw an impressive display by AHOY SENIOR, who won by 30l despite being a bit scrappy at his fences including the water. He beat BRAVEMANSGAME by 7l at the Aintree Festival last Season and I cant see why that should change today. Reported to have done a ‘scintillating’ piece of work last Saturday, Lucinda Russell’s raider is also going to be entered for the Gold Cup if all goes well today. I have taken the 33/1 currently available just in case.
AHOY SENOR Win
2:10 WETHERBY William Hill Rowland Meyrick Hcap Chs (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m 10 run
This is a wide-open contest and SILVER HALLMARK heads the market with Dan Skelton’s DEBECE being talked about as the main danger – especially as he always runs well fresh. The favourite is stepping back up to 3m after an uninspiring run at Carlisle over 20f LTO. The surprise winner of the former Hennessy at Newbury last month, Venetia Williams’ CLOUDY GLEN, must also have a shout albeit over a slightly shorter distance than his last victory, and EMPIRE STEEL has had a decent season so far with two wins and two places from five runs. I see WINDSOR AVENUE has been backed overnight from 8s to 6s, suggesting a degree of confidence and he has a 3lb pull from his decent jockey booking. I’d take the 6s if at all possible.
WINDSOR AVENUE e/w
2:30 KEMPTON Ladbrokes Christmas Hdl (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m 5 run
EPATANTE is the clear selection on trends and I would fear TRITONIC enough to have him in a Reverse forecast
EPATANTE Win – TRITONIC 1pt RFC
3:05 KEMPTON Ladbrokes King George VI Chs (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m ITV
A brace of previous winners, the winner of The Gold Cup, several old favourites and a wealth of proven talent in every department – horses, trainers and jockeys. What’s not to like? For my part, I shall be backing one of the younger models and supporting CHANTRY HOUSE. Aged 7, he has won 5 of his 6 races over fences and has won all of his latest 4 chases. He looks to be on the upgrade and while it was only a 2-runner race LTO he won easily and will strip fitter. He stays the distance, will like the ground and likes Kempton.
CHANTRY HOUSE Win
Just for fun – consider doing Nico De Boinville’s five mounts across the card. At odds currently in excess of 275/1 the fivefold, I think it might be worth doing a small perm