King George VI Chase Preview | 26 Dec 15:15
TEA FOR TWO, at 20/1, looks over-priced in a Christmas cracker of a King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
The eight-year-old gelding has plenty to find on form, but saves his best for Kempton Park, having won three out of four races at the Sunbury track.
He tends to need a run or two to come to the boil, and that was very much the case at Aintree, when he was comprehensively beaten by Bristol De Mai, in Haydock Park’s Betfair Chase.
The latter defeat did come on bottomless ground, which evidently suited the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained six-year-old, but Tea For Two shaped encouragingly, despite being slammed by sixty-seven lengths in fourth place. This right-handed sharper track will suit him better, and at 20/1, he appeals as an each-way proposition, as there are question marks over many of the other participants.
Bristol De Mai (9/2) has now won seven times out of sixteen races over fences, but is still very much on an upward curve, given he’s a young horse. He is best served by testing ground, though, which he isn’t guaranteed to get around here. I have slight doubts about the track suiting too.
There will also be plenty of competition for the lead, with ante-post favourite Might Bite in the field.
Nicky Henderson’s highly progressive chaser returned with a comfortable Sandown success, and that off the back of two Grade One wins in the RSA at Cheltenham (when he still won despite hanging badly up the home straight) and the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.
On both occasions, he beat stable companion Whisper (16/1), who is another entered up here, and who warmed up with an excellent second to Total Recall, at Newbury.
Any juice in Might Bite’s (6/4) price has long disappeared into the horizon though, but if he settles into a free-flowing rhythm, then he will be hard to catch.
Colin Tizzard has won this race for the last two years and has three notable entries.
Last year’s superb winner, Thistlecrack (7/1), simply blew the opposition away, but following a narrow defeat at Cheltenham in January, was then forced to sit on the sidelines with a tendon injury. He recently returned with an underwhelming fifth place in Newbury’s Long Walk Hurdle and has plenty to prove.
Cue Card (40/1) won this race two years ago, and despite a glittering cv, age now appears to be catching up with him.
Fox Norton (8/1) would be a fascinating inclusion, after a close second in the Tingle Creek over two miles on Saturday. Having previously stepped up in trip to two-and-a-half miles at Aintree (won a Grade One), there will be a temptation to try three miles for the first time. Whether the King George is the right choice for that, remains to be seen.
The Irish have many entries too, but how many of them will run?
Douvan (12/1), missed the Tingle Creek at Sandown, and I would be surprised if Willie Mullins elected to run him in this gruelling Grade One three mile chase after such a layoff.
— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) November 13, 2017
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Sizing John (4/1), could turn up though. His recent triumphant return in the John Durkan at Punchestown was impressive.
Djakadam was a well-beaten second and gives the form solidity.
Stepping the seven-year-old up in trip has been the making of him. However, it simply depends whether Jessica Harrington decides to bring him over this Christmas or stays at home in Ireland, where he may have an alternative target at Leopardstown.
Tim Peters’ Prediction
I think there is a distinct possibility that we may only end up with six or seven runners in the race, so taking that into account, the 20/1 about Tea For Two should be snapped up as an each-way selection.
Welsh National Preview | 27 Dec 14:50
Rock the Kasbah (12/1) can win a fiercely competitive Welsh Grand National clash.
Philip Hobbs looks set to run this seven-year-old, who took his Chepstow record to three wins from five starts, by winning here in October. Now racing off a 7lb higher mark, this will be by far his biggest test to date, but he appears to be crying out for an extreme test of stamina, which is guaranteed at this track.
Beware The Bear (10/1) put up an extraordinary performance when winning the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle. The seven-year-old’s saddle slipped that day, and he lost many lengths during the contest, before eventually out-staying Bishops Road close home. A 4lb penalty is none too harsh, but I would like to see a little more fluency with his jumping, as it can be a little untidy at times.
Bishop’s Road is 2lbs better off with Beware The Bear and finished tenth in this contest last year. Trainer Kerry Lee won this race with Mountainous in 2015, while her Father, Richard, won it twice in 2011 and 2013. Bishop’s Road is a dour stayer and is still fairly handicapped on his best form.
American (20/1) was disappointing at Newbury on his comeback. A sluggish start didn’t help, as he likes to bowl along in front, and the ground may not have been testing enough too, but he still ran flat. He has always struck me as more of a Welsh Grand National type, given the ground conditions tend to be more demanding, but he is a very fragile horse who needs careful minding.
Gavin Cromwell’s pride and joy is Raz De Maree (20/1). The twelve-year-old finished runner-up in this race last year, to the very well handicapped Native River, and had several of this year’s entries behind him. Raz De Maree is just 1lb higher this time around and has been primed for this, following a solid second in a Southwell Handicap Hurdle. Before that, he had finished runner-up in the Cork National (won it – the year before), and again looks terrific each-way value.
Evan Williams horses have found their form in recent weeks, and I remember calling Pobbles Bay (16/1) to victory at Uttoxeter, on his chasing debut, last season. That day, he travelled and jumped well, and went into many people’s notebooks, and then followed up by winning here in good fashion. Since then he has been a bit disappointing, but he is very lightly-raced, and any market support should be noted.
Ask The Weatherman (12/1), would be an apt winner, given the current cold snap that’s been engulfing the UK. This prolific point to point winner has also made a good early impression under rules, having won at Exeter last time, but this will represent a significant step up in class.
— Sporting Life (@SportingLife) October 17, 2017
Chase The Spud (14/1), has won his last two races for the in-form Fergal O’Brien but will be running off a career high-mark of 148. His Midlands National win saw him fend off Mysteree (20/1) by one-and-a-half lengths, but the runner-up is now 13lbs better off at the weights and has a terrific record fresh.
Final Nudge (10/1), also contested that Uttoxeter staying contest, and still held every chance before departing four fences from home. He returned with a highly respectable second place in the Badger Beers Chase at Wincanton and is another to add to the shortlist.
In a hugely competitive race, I will take a punt on course specialist Rock The Kasbah, who looks to have further scope over marathon trips. Raz De Maree is also worth chancing at a much bigger each-way price.