WE’VE been spoiled with some top-class racing over the last couple of weeks.
And the Festive offering is no exception. Our man Jack Keene has picked out his best bets on ITV for Boxing Day and looks to keep his good run of form going.
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What a renewal of the King George in store.
All eyes will be on the big three, Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname and Santini.
But it’s Christmas so what the hell, I’m going to have an exotic punt in the big one.
REAL STEEL (3.00 Kempton) is no mug and he is worth an each-way punt at long odds.
He will need the market leaders to under perform if he is to even have a sniff at winning, but I reckon he can hit the frame at least.
He was a high-class performer for Willie Mullins, with plenty of form with the likes of Min and Footpad to his name, and he caught the eye when pitched into the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a 50s shot back in March.
He cruised through the race but was just outstayed up the hill, finishing a commendable sixth, and his first run for Paul Nicholls at Ascot was not without considerable promise.
He will have come on plenty for that and he is totally unexposed at the trip, having long looked as though a flat three miles would be absolutely ideal.
Each of his six wins have come at right-handed tracks, while ground conditions will be perfect. He’s the stable third-string, but I think he has been slightly underestimated.
In the Feltham (or if we are being proper, the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase…), SHAN BLUE (1.50 Kempton) is going to take plenty of beating.
Dan Skelton’s strapping six-year-old was a smart hurdler but looks a top-class chaser in the making.
He hasn’t had to come out of second gear in winning a pair of novice chases at Wetherby, jumping and travelling like a very talented horse.
The form of his most recent success, on his first try at three miles, has been boosted by the runner-up, so it’s not like he’s been beating trees.
This sharp track won’t be an issue for him, whereas I couldn’t think of a more unsuitable venue for market rival The Big Breakaway (except perhaps Chester?!).
The Skelton team can do no wrong this winter and they think the world of Shan Blue. He can bag Grade 1 honours.
Boxing Day selections (odds correct at time of writing)
1.15 Kempton – Mr One More 1pt WIN @ 11-2
1.50 Kempton – Shan Blue 2pts WIN @ 2-1
3.00 Kempton – Real Steel 0.5pts EW @ 18-1
- (Column started August 6) rolling P&L: +22.3pts
In the Novices’ Handicap Chase earlier on the card, I’ll be siding with MR ONE MORE (1.15 Kempton) after an eye-catching comeback run.
Harry Fry’s lightly-raced eight-year-old returned from the thick-end of three years off the track to finish a fine second at Chepstow 36 days ago.
He was given a patient ride, as you’d expect after such a long lay-off, but he was left with too much to do and was flying at the death over the extended 2m.
This extra half a mile is a no-brainer and on some of his form as a younger horse a mark of 136 looks very tempting.
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