Christmas is always a brilliant time for punters to enjoy a flutter or two, and alongside the Welsh Grand National on December 27 sits the Winter Festival meeting, which stops by Kempton Park on Boxing Day and remains one of the absolute standout days of National Hunt racing each and every year.
There’s a great racecard to enjoy throughout the day, but clearly the highlight of the post-Chrimbo proceedings is the King George VI Chase.
This Grade 1 encounter is arguably the second most prestigious race of the year after the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and while advocates of the Grand National might dispute the fact can they list a rollcall of former winners that includes Desert Orchid, Best Mate, Kauto Star, Long Run and many of racing’s other legendary performers?
The aim of following a great pantheon of champions – plus the not-inconsiderable purse of £200,000 – ensures that some of the finest horses in the land will do battle at Kempton on Boxing Day, so if you find yourself unable to move from the sofa due to a turkey-induced coma, flick on ITV Racing and enjoy one of the premier contests of the year.
Might Bite, Will Run Well
The bookmakers favourite for the King George is Might Bite, a powerhouse whose career has gone to the next level since taking the step up to 24 furlongs.
Since falling (when clear of the field) in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase almost 12 months to the day at Kempton, the eight-year-old has returned to form with a bang. Victory by a nose from stablemate Whisper in the RSA Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham set the scene, and that was followed by another win over Whisper in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase shortly thereafter.
A comfortable win on his seasonal return at Sandown in November confirmed what we already knew – this horse is the real deal, and Nicky Henderson has certainly got the hottest property in the field to his credit here.
You suspect that Might Bite is of a quality that ensures he wouldn’t look out place on the list of King George champions, and with the cream regularly rising to the top in this renewal he is smart money at around 13/8 with the sportsbooks.
Bristol De Mai to Take Advantage of Cracks in the Field
It’s fair to say that Thistlecrack had the racing world at his feet (hooves) after taking the spoils here 12 months ago, but a subsequent defeat to Many Clouds, plus an injury that ended his season, left many punters wondering if he could get back to Grade 1 level anytime soon. A fifth in his season’s return is not the best indicator of that.
The bookmakers have built such doubt into their price of 6/1 – a mark that would have been unthinkable just a year ago, but smart punters only bet with facts and substance in mind. With doubts about Thistlecrack’s current credentials, he can be swerved with a clear conscience.
There can be no doubting the quality of Bristol De Mai, who after a very ordinary 2016/17 campaign has come out swinging this term.
Victory in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, which was a very handy Grade 2 featuring the likes of Coneygree and Blaklion, was supported by an astonishing performance in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, where Bristol De Mai triumphed by a whopping 57 lengths from Cue Card and ten more to Tea for Two.
— Tom Lee (@TomsTips) November 4, 2017
The naysayers will argue that was a win of little significance given the absolute mud bath that Haydock had turned into back in November, but with bits and bobs of rain forecast early in Christmas week there could be very soft conditions for the field to overcome at Kempton.
When placing our bets smart punters deal in knowns, not hearsay, and it is clear that Bristol De Mai is a Grade 1 winner well worthy of consideration at around the 4/1 mark. Nobody has run better than this six-year-old in 2017/18 so far.