Clan Des Obeaux can make it back-to-back King Georges
15:05 Kempton - Clan Des Obeaux
Despite the small field I think this is a fascinating renewal of the Christmas classic, where the forgotten horse appears to be the 2018 winner, Clan Des Obeaux. Paul Nicholls has made this race a happy hunting ground in modern times and Clan Des Obeaux bids for back-to-back victories. Kauto Star and Silviniaco Conti have been multiple winners in the recently for the stable and Clan Des Obeaux will be all the better for a pipe-opener in the Champion Chase at Down Royal.
I thought he was value for more than last year's winning margin and generally shows most of his best form going this way round. He has always been one who comes on plenty for his seasonal reappearance so his Down Royal defeat is no concern, especially for a yard whose charges have been needing their return in any case. He has less to prove than either of the pair ahead of him in the betting and neither of them would want to see him just half a length down turning in at Kempton, because he wont be stopping. If he is within striking distance, I think he can etch his name in the history books as a dual King George winner.
It was no great surprise to see Harry Cobden choose Cyrname over Clan Des Obeaux. That horse is an excellent jumper and of course ended the unbeaten run of champion two-miler Altior on his reappearance at Ascot, continuing the improvement he made last season when he recorded a first Grade 1 success. However, he has yet to race beyond two miles five furlongs and that has to be a bit of a concern, despite his trainer being confident that he'll have the required stamina to last home around here I am not sure I would want to be on him at 11/8.
Perhaps a bigger threat and one that will get the trip is Colin Tizzard's Lostintranslation. He was among the best novices last season, finishing second in the JLT before winning easily at Aintree and then following that up with a superb jumping display at Carlisle. Last time out he was always travelling strongly when defeating Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase, there is no doubt he will be another rattling home at the finish and I think he is the bigger threat to Clan Des Obeaux.
Nicky Henderson has a strong hand in the Christmas Hurdle
14:30 Kempton - Fusil Raffles
Ten runners line up for the Christmas Hurdle but still Nicky Henderson looks to be the man to go for in this race, he has won it for the last two years and six of the last 10 renewals have gone his way. He saddles the first three in the market, Epatante, Verdana Blue and the favourite Fusil Raffles.
Epatante has course and distance winning form in the book and bounced back from her Cheltenham with an impressive win in Listed class at Newbury last time out but this is significantly tougher and while she could have further improvement to come, others are preferred. Verdana Blue caused a major shock when defeating stablemate Buveur D'Air at this meeting last year and was an impressive winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle on her last hurdles start but my preference of the Henderson trio is Fusil Raffles.
The four-year-old favourite arrives with a perfect 3-3 record and he could hardly have been more impressive when landing the course and distance Adonis Hurdle by nine lengths in February. He also did well to get the better of Grand Sancy when landing the Elite Hurdle and is entitled to come on again for that run at Wincanton. I think there is plenty more to come from him and he will relish today's ground conditions.