There’s nothing like some quality horse racing to take your mind off how annoying that cousin is, or how sick you feel after using the tin of Quality Streets as a nosebag.
There are more meetings on St Stephen’s Day than leftover sprouts, however the place to be is clearly Kempton, and in particular the King George VI Chase at 3.05pm.
The Queen’s old man had a stammer worse than Gareth Gates (remember him?) so it would be ironic if Whisper was to prevail at 15/2. His stablemate Might Bite is the red-hot favourite, but offers little value at the prices, and Whisper put up a big performance on Timeform ratings when trying to concede a stone to Total Recall at Newbury last time.
Clearly, though, the race isn’t just between the two, with the progressive Bristol de Mai out to prove that he isn’t just a mud-lark, while Tea For Two has a good course record and should outrun his double-figure odds.
The other pair to focus on represent Colin Tizzard: Thistlecrack and Fox Norton. Thistlecrack won the King George a year ago but suffered an injury afterwards, and his recent return over hurdles petered out quicker than my Christmas good cheer after two hours with family.
Fox Norton bumped into a good one at Sandown last time and is up in distance here – the good ground should help him see it out and he looks a big threat.
Earlier on the card, the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (1.55pm) looks more open than grandad’s mouth as he snores on the sofa. This is the race in which Might Bite fell at the last 12 months ago, so expect drama, however the nod goes to Mia’s Storm who is the best female novice chaser around and she can give a beating to the boys.
Fountain’s Windfall, Elegant Escape and Ballyoptic are all respected, however the latter may need more of a stamina test, so a bigger threat could be Black Corton. This test of speed looks tailor-made for Paul Nicholls’ runner and it could give the racing media another chance to fawn over female jockey Bryony Frost.
Splitting those two races is the Christmas Hurdle (2.30pm) and it looks another ideal opportunity for the Champion Hurdle winner Buveur d’Air to top up his owner’s already bulging coffers.
Aside from The New One, who was ahead of Old Guard when trying (and failing) to win a third International Hurdle at Cheltenham 10 days ago, Buveur d’Air has got more in hand than big Uncle Barry when the mince pies are handed round.
* All prices correct at time of posting.