The King George at Kempton 3.15pm is a cracking race. Bristol De Mai was spectacular at Haydock last month but we’re going to learn a lot more about him on the forecast better ground at Kempton. He’s a really strong stayer.
I thought Might Bite was unbelievably impressive last season. He fell at the last when well in command of the novice chase here 12 months ago and at Cheltenham nearly ran out before getting back up to beat Whisper in the RSA Novices´ Chase. He’s got a huge engine and will be very hard to beat on Tuesday.
Fox Norton is a fascinating contender as he steps up in trip to 3m. His recent runs will have sharpened him up and he could be a huge player.
It’s a big ask for last year’s winner Thistlecrack to win again and I don’t particularly fancy him, to be honest. Nicky Henderson’s other runner Whisper comes into it on the back of a great run in the Ladbrokes Trophy and Noel Meade is due to send Disko over. The King George has all the makings of a brilliant race and one of the best you’ll see around Christmas.
As for how it will play out, Bristol De Mai has to be given huge respect for his performances this season. He’s an improving horse for sure. Fox Norton, who is going up to three miles for the first time, is a big threat as well.
Might Bite should have the beating of Whisper and Thistlecrack has a long way to go if he’s to get back to the level he was at last year. Bristol De Mai or Fox Norton might come close, but Might Bite is my pick to win.
I rode Belshill who was third to Might Bite in the RSA last year and I thought half-way around that there was no way on earth that he could keep up that gallop. However, he did and I was massively taken by him because of that performance. That’s when he captured my imagination and I think what beats Might Bite wins the King George. But for me, nothing will.
Beautiful Buveur D’Air
There’s not really anything in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton (2.30pm) that can take Buveur D’Air on – nothing that obvious anyway. Other than Faugheen, I don’t believe there’s a hurdler in general that could challenge him.
He’s off to Kempton and with Faugheen going to Leopardstown on the 29th, it will be interesting to see what kind of performance Buveur D’Air puts up. I reckon it’s only going to add to the billing and anticipation of what’s going to happen in the Champion Hurdle next March, if both horses get there.
Upping the Antey At Leopardstown
I’d imagine Antey would be our runner in the Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle at 12.15pm. He works well at home. He’s won his only race to date at Les Sables-d’Olonne in late July. I’ve ridden him and he’d give you a really good feeling. He schooled well, but this can be a hot race. Bunk Off Early won this race last year.
You’re going to have to be Quick Grabim
They were managing Quick Grabim really well with a run over hurdles at Fairyhouse last month when he got caught in a pocket, but he came home really well. He’s got a run under his belt now and he’s in good form.
Quick Grabim won a bumper at Leopardstown almost a year ago, so I’d imagine he’ll go back there. He’ll definitely be one to keep an eye on over the Christmas period, especially if he rocks up in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle at 12.45pm.
Footpad on another level
Footpad was brilliantly impressive at Navan last month. The form hasn’t worked out that strong, but that’s not Footpad’s fault. I’d imagine he’s our No.1 and he’s already favourite for the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham. He’s in good order at home, so it’s a case of fingers crossed for him. I watched Footpad this morning and he’s in great form, looking really well.
It was his jumping that just looked spectacular at Navan and Leopardstown is a great track to ride over fences, so hopefully he’ll come good again on Tuesday in the Racing Post Novice Chase (2.20pm).
Avenir D’Une Vie and Tombstone are decent horses, but they both like to race fairly prominently and that should suit Footpad. He has won over a longer distance so stamina isn’t an issue for him, but I reckon both of those have to improve a bit to get to Footpad’s level.