Three Grade 1 races at Kempton this afternoon. We are going to study two of them. A dry day is forecast after light rain overnight. The official going is Good to Soft.
My tissue prices for both races are shown in brackets.
2.00 Kempton Kauto Star Novices´ Chase (In Memory of Nigel Clark) (formerly the Feltham Novices Chase) (Grade 1)
Southfield Royale is a noted horse who remains progressive and the softer ground conditions could be in his favour. However he does tend to jump left-handed and could be disadvantaged at this track. (5/1)
Native River stayed on well to win on latest start in a Grade 2 at Newbury. Although the comparative ease of this victory could be questioned as the runner-up found little for pressure. (5/2)
Bally Beaufort is a promising stayer who steps up in grade. Won well when we strongly backed him on last appearance at Aintree. Testing ground would put him in the mix. (8/1)
Tea For Two was very impressive on chase debut when winning on heavy ground at Exeter at the start of the month. His regular jockey Lizzie Kelly cannot claim her allowance in this class of race, although that was also the case on latest start. Has to prove he stays this trip, but running style suggests he should. (5/2)
My slight preference would be for Tea For Two but at the current odds on offer there is little value in this race.
3.10 Kempton King George VI Chase (Grade 1)
Vautour was highly impressive when winning at the Cheltenham Festival and is expected to progress from his reappearance outing at Ascot last month. He has to prove he stays this trip. (5/1)
Don Cossack looks top class and I wouldn’t oppose him lightly. Has had two bloodless victories in Ireland this season after finishing the last campaign by winning a Grade 1 at the Punchestown Festival with Cue Card a distant fourth. (3/1)
Cue Card’s emphatic defeat of Silviniaco Conti at Haydock underlined his excellent form and must go very close. (3/1)
Al Ferof recently moved to Dan Skelton and comprehensively returned to his best on first start for his new stable. Three miles looks to stretch his stamina. (8/1)
Smad Place was a big price winner for us when running away with the Hennessy. Steps up in grade and needs to improve again to get involved here. (8/1)
I have Don Cossack and Cue Card as my joint favourites. At the current prices on offer, Cue Card is the preference.
My best wishes for the new year.
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