Alan Thompson is back today and he has two selections from Kempton where he hopes to start and recover some of the deficit that Santa has caused...
"He was well beaten last time out but that was in the Grade 1 Henry VIII at Sandown this is much more his level as he showed when winning at Huntingdon on his first start over fences."
Tom George and Adrian Heskey are on a decent run of form at the minute and I think Max Ward has a good chance of adding to that record in this Novices' Handicap. He was well beaten last time out but that was in the Grade 1 Henry VIII at Sandown this is much more his level as he showed when winning at Huntingdon on his first start over fences. After missing all of last season with an injury it was an impressive display from the lightly-raced seven-year-old and his trainer to get him ready after an 843 day break.
There are plenty of dangers in the race but the one I fear the most is Nicky Henderson's topically named Gold Present. The Henderson team certainly know how to win this race having saddled five of the last nine winners. He won his first race over fences at Doncaster a month ago but he certainly wasn't at his best last term when he produced three very mediocre performances. If he doesn't reproduce that Doncaster form then Max Ward could be just the one to get ahead of him.
The last race at the meeting looks a very competitive contest but I have been drawn to
Spiritofthegames who was a point winner over three miles, before moving to Dan Skelton's yard and winning first time out under rules over two and a half miles at Ayr in a maiden hurdle. He then ran a very creditable fourth in a Grade 2 where the second placed Wholestone, has since come out and won a similar event to this at Cheltenham in November. His rating of 125 looks very fair and should make him competitive off this mark.
I won't be putting this on my P&L but just want to mention the King George (as everyone else is having their say) the clash between the stablemates Cue Card and Thistlecrack looks mouthwatering and it is hard to see anything else winning. For me though it has to be the more experienced Cue Card, he was brave last year when winning this, outstaying Vautour and looked the winner of the Gold Cup when he crashed out at third last. Thistlecrack is a novice and while he is an exceptional horse he has only run three times over fences, I am sure he will go on to win a King George at some point in his career, just not this year. Whoever wins it, it looks like being a proper Christmas Cracker!
Back Max Ward @ 13/2 in the 13:30 Kempton*
* Qualifies for the Betfair 3/1+ promotion
Alan Thompson 2016 P&L
2016 Overall (prior to this week): +15.23 pts
This week so far...
Staked: 0 pts
Returned: 0 pts