Boxing Day Racing Tips: A pair of Christmas crackers on the Kempton card

Betting.Betfair wishes you plenty of Christmas luck with your Boxing Day bets
Betting.Betfair wishes you plenty of Christmas luck with your Boxing Day bets

Tony Calvin has donned his Santa hat to root through the Kempton card in search of his favourite thing - big-priced racing wagers, and he has found a couple for your consideration...

"I saw enough in Royal Vacation's 2m5f Ascot third of four behind the ultra-impressive Politologue last week to back him at 40/1 each-way with the Sportsbook, and/or look to get matched at 50.049/1 and 8.07/1 win and place on the exchange."

A great race does not always make for an attractive betting heat, and that is the case with the King George at 15:15.

Last year's winner Cue Card has several bits of form that mean that his stablemate Thistlecrack will have to be one of the better chasers this century - yes, century - to beat him if he runs to that level once again. And on just his fourth chase start, too.

I don't think anyone would question that Thistlecrack has the raw ability and potential to win the race.

But betting is about risk and reward and I would want a lot bigger than his current price of 2.3811/8 to be backing last year's top staying hurdler to beat a horse that has posted several chase performances nudging a mark of 180 after just three runs in novice chases in which his biggest SP was 1/6.

So I shall just be watching what promises to be a superb race.

I would have been very interested in backing Road To Riches without the front two, but he was a surprise no-show at the final declaration stage this morning, so my interest in the race is limited to the 20/1 each-way punt advised on Tea For Two in these columns over a fortnight ago.

I don't for a moment expect last year's Feltham winner to beat the big two if they stand up, but I recommended the bet on the basis of the place angle and we can't ask for more than just five runners and three places.

There has been a lot of debate about who will go off favourite but, as I said when asked this question by the Press Association on Friday afternoon, the answer to that is very simple.

The on-course market simply follows Betfair, so the big-hitters on the exchange in the final few minutes of trading will decide which of the pair heads the market. Simples.

The New One can enjoy a very merry Christmas Hurdle

I was gutted (well I was and I wasn't, read on) that Vroum Vroum Mag wasn't declared for the Christmas Hurdle - as she and Yanworth were going to make the market for a double-play on My Tent Or Yours and The New One, who were separated by just ½ length when fighting out the finish in this race in 2013.

I wanted to take on the Mullins mare and Yanworth over 2m on a sharp track - the latter would have gone for the Long Walk last Saturday had his owner not had Unowhatimeanharry for that race - and I don't fancy Ch' Tibello at all.

On Thursday morning, The New One was 7/2 and My Tent Or Yours was 11/1 - and I have had a nibble on both, I admit (hence I am not totally gutted by the VVM no-show) - but obviously now their prices have shortened dramatically.

I would still have The New One as the best bet in the race at 2/1 and he would be my favourite - I think he will get the run of the race from the front, even if I expect Yanworth to be ridden more aggressively over this trip - but I can let this kind of bet pass at the price.

Ballyhill could be big value in the opener

Jenkins is a worthy short-priced favourite in the opener at 12:55 as the form of his Newbury win is working out very well.

But he took a while to warm to his task there hurdling-wise and he doesn't have a lot in hand in form, if anything, for a horse trading around 1/2, even if he is the current favourite for the Supreme and is held in very high regard.

Ballyhill's Cheltenham fourth last time entitles him to be a lot shorter in the betting than his double-figure odds suggest, so if Betfair Sportbook's 12/1 is still there when you read this then the advice is to back him each-way if you can. A price of 10/1 would still be very backable if it isn't.

There were a lot of well-touted horses in that Cheltenham race, so to finish a six-length fourth under a penalty was no mean feat. I would also take a chance and back him win only at 15.014/1 and bigger on the exchange, too, against the hotpot.

He has an official mark of 136, and I think he will be hard to kick out of the frame at least, even if he is probably more of a stayer.

You might be able to book a Vacation if this Royal bet lands

The market has got it right in the 13:30 with Gold Present and Poker School at the front - Two Taffs may have his supporters though - but I am going to take a flier and oppose the obvious duo of Anibale Fly and Frodon in the 14:05.

Both have outstanding form claims but they are unproven beyond 2m5f, and I saw enough in Royal Vacation's 2m5f Ascot third of four behind the ultra-impressive Politologue last week to back him at 40/1 each-way with the Sportsbook, and/or look to get matched at 50.049/1 and 8.07/1 win and place on the exchange.

He really should be running in the preceding novice handicap chase off a mark of 131, as I think that underestimates his ability by some margin.

He did really well to stick on at Ascot last time after trying to match strides with the winner early doors - he dropped out to be last of the four at one stage - and I think that form is stronger than the handicapper would have you believe.

We know that 3m around here will be no problem for him stamina-wise, so the step back up in trip will suit, and the first-time blinkers are interesting.

Colin Tizzard put the headgear on the same owner's Theatre Guide for the first time before that horse won at Newbury last time and I fancy he will massively outrun his odds. He could run a career-best and finish fourth or fifth, but that's the chance you take at 40/1.

Favourites are strong in the finale

In the finale at 15:45 two horses stand out for me; Spiritofthegames and Instant Karma.

I think the former could be thrown in off 125 on his Cheltenham fourth while Instant Karma is rock solid, given that he was only put up 1lb after a good second in a fair time over 2m at Ascot last time and looks highly likely to be suited by this extra 5f.

But, once again, they are first and second in the betting - though they are around the 13/2 and 7/1 mark admittedly, which is fair I suppose if not overly-generous in this 16-runner handicap - and I can't see too much juice in their prices.

I'll leave alone reluctantly but I may chuck a £20 reverse forecast at them to make sitting in traffic from Kempton all the more bearable if it cops.

Yes, I will be dry and driving, unfortunately.

And not forgetting Wetherby...

Over at Wetherby, in the Rowland Meyrick - no matter how many times I write that, I never fail to think "Elephant Man" , juvenile I know - it is no surprise at all to see last week's runaway Haydock scorer Yala Enki and Hennessy fifth and course and distance winner Blaklion head the betting.

The one who interested me was Definitly Red at around the 5/1 mark. He was one of the punts of the season when he was sent off at 5/4 for the Rehearsal Chase last time, in which he could only finish third to Otago Trail and didn't jump as well as he can.

He is obviously thought more than capable of winning off his current mark - and the handicapper dropped him 1lb for what was a fair performance - but the problem of putting him up as a bet now is the prospect of rain.

He was sent around the outside last time in search of better ground and although he has winning form on heavy - he split Blaklion and Native River in the Towton here last season - his trainer is adamant he wants better ground, and there is a fair bit of rain forecast in the next 48 hours.

The ground is currently good to soft (which would be ideal for Definitly Red) but could be a lot softer come Monday, so I will hold fire for now. The complexion of this race will change a lot if there is more rain than forecast, as there are some real mudlarks in here.

Recommended Bets
Back Ballyhill at 15.014/1 or bigger on the Exchange and/or 12-1 each way with Betfair Sportsbook in 12.55 at Kempton
Back Royal Vacation at 40-1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook, and/or 50.049/1 and 8.07/1 win and place on the exchange in 14:05 at Kempton

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