National Hunt enthusiasts may love Christmas, but they love Boxing Day even better, and many will have already been pouring over the declarations and form in an attempt to pay for the festivities.
It’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few days – and I’ve got a couple of value horse racing tips for Friday’s big two races.
King George, Kempton, 3.10pm
Ten runners go to post for the traditional Boxing Day highlight and six of them can be given a genuine chance of being crowned king.
It’s hard to dispute the claims of last year’s winner, as he’s top-rated, proven over course and distance, his trainer Paul Nicholls has trained six of the last eight winners (eight in total), and there have been plenty of winners who have returned to retain their title.
Last year’s Arkle runner-up owes his position as second favourite to his connections (Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh), and still has something to prove on form as well as his ability to stay the three-mile trip. However, he did beat both My Tent Or Yours and Jezki over hurdles, but has yet to win over the festive period.
Well-fancied for last year’s renewal (went off 5/1) but finished a distant third. Curing an ulcer problem has supposedly done him the world of good and looked just that at Ascot on his seasonal debut when slamming Tingle Creek runner-up Somersby by 7-lengths. He runs in the colours of owner John Hales, who won the race twice with One Man, though he won’t have the services of Ruby Walsh who rode him at Ascot.
Last year’s runner-up, and the apple of his trainer’s eye, hasn’t returned from injury in quite the same form as last year. Last year he looked all over the winner until late on when some say his stamina gave way, but may have suffered the injury which stopped him running again last season. Looks to have been brought to his peak for this contest this time around and could prove difficult to peg back if the ground dries up to good.
Looks brilliant on his best days, and was sent off joint favourite last year after being so impressive in the previous year’s Feltham Chase. However, he finished the race lame before winning the Ryan Air Chase at the Cheltenham festival in March and finishing runner-up to Silvianco Conti at Aintree – form which makes him look a little over-priced.
Was three wins from three runs at Kempton before flopping in last year’s renewal, however has arguably improved in the meantime in putting up his three best chasing performances on his last three runs. He won the Charlie Hall in great style before finding just Silvianco Conti too good in the Betfair Chase. Good ground would give him a genuine chance, though will be without regular jockey Richard Johnson.
Soft ground would greatly enhance the chances of stout stayer Siviniaco Conti, whilst it’s simply impossible to rule out any of Al Ferof, Champagne Fever, Cue Card or Menorah. However, Dynaste was superb in the 2013 Feltham when he posted a very quick time. The stable have also had two of their 3-mile handicappers (Broadway Buffalo and Cheverey Chambertin) hack up in the last week or so. He’s also 3-times the price he was last year and, in the hope that the ground is no worse than good-to-soft, he looks my idea of fantastic each-way value.
Dynaste 4-points each-way @ 8/1
Christmas Hurdle, Kempton, Friday 2.35pm
This looks at the mercy of Faugheen who has been nicknamed “Faugheen The Machine” by the press. He’s already been installed as favourite for this season’s Champion Hurdle and will have to win this easily to justify that position – but he should.
However his price of 1/2 isn’t exactly my idea of getting in the Christmas spirit, and a forecast looks more interesting. Irving is second favourite at 4/1 whilst Sign of Victory is third in at 8/1, however the horse that looks the value is Purple Bay. John Ferguson’s horse is officially the second highest rated horse, and has a record racing right-handed in England of 2/1/2/1/1.
2 points Forecast: Faugheen to beat Purple Bay