Some top-class racing in the UK over the festive period including both the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and the Welsh Grand National the following day at Chepstow.
King George VI Chase
December 26, 3pm
The Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux, who is part-owned by former Manchester United gaffer Sir Alex Ferguson, bids for a hat-trick in the former contest and heads the market together with stable companion Cyrname, a comfortable winner of the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last time.
Clan Des Obeaux may have been beaten twice since scooping last year’s King George by 21 lengths from Cyrname, but the eight-year-old is a significant loser from a peak price of 5/1 back in February when Paddy first put the market up.
Those two reversals include a disappointing effort in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – the Somerset sorcerer has ruled out a return to the Cheltenham Festival in 2021 – and a more encouraging second to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month, when heavy ground may have been against him.
If the money is right, Nicholls will be celebrating an unprecedented 12th King George success.
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Welsh Grand National
December 27, 2.50pm
Paddy’s worst result in the Welsh Grand National on December 27 at Chepstow is Springfield Fox, trained by Tom George, who has also nearly halved in price in recent days.
The subject of the gamble was given a pipe-opener in a novice hurdle at Chepstow earlier in the month, presumably to avoid ruining his handicap mark over the bigger obstacles and he ran creditably enough to be beaten just over five lengths over an inadequate trip.
Before that the seven-year-old was last seen in anger in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, when despite going off at a mere 7-1 dreams were dashed when trainer’s son and rider Noel George was unseated at the 16th fence.
He had won both his chasing starts before that, including proving that he enjoys Chepstow where he hacked up in a novices’ handicap chase in January, when he must have been some good thing off a mark of 117 as he will race off 142 just after Christmas.
Another Welsh National contender that has come alive since the weekend is Dominateur and punters that have backed Oliver Sherwood’s charge will be hoping that he can live up to his name.
This fellow announced himself as a real candidate for this year’s renewal when he landed a novices’ limited handicap chase at this meeting in 2019, when he was furiously backed to score by two and a half lengths from Clondaw Anchor. He then ran well enough when upped in class in the Grade 2 Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby before finishing the campaign with an encouraging mid-division finish in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in March.
Canny Sherwood started him off in a Listed chase at Sandown over just three miles last month, when he didn’t jump with fluency, but his tutor will have given him plenty of practice at home since and the additional six and a half furlongs will be right up his alley.
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