Through The Card: Kempton, Monday December 26

Thistlecrack steps out of novice company for the first time in Monday's King George VI
Thistlecrack steps out of novice company for the first time in Monday's King George VI

Timeform take you through the card on King George VI day at Kempton.


12:55 - Though there is room for improvement in JENKINS' (2) jumping, he is entitled to have learned plenty from his first start over hurdles at Newbury last time. He ran out a decisive five-length winner that day, and the form has worked out fairly well since, with the four horses in behind him (which included subsequent Cheltenham novice winner Pingshou) all running well next time out. Nicky Henderson sent out Altior to win this last season, and it is hard to see Jenkins being out of the three.

13:30 - TWO TAFFS (3) only won once last season (at Ayr on his final start) over hurdles, but was progressive all the same, and with both the pedigree and size to make a chaser, he could easily take his form to a new level now tackling the larger obstacles. He failed to stay two and a quarter miles on desperate ground last time at Haydock, and should bounce back from that here. MAX WARD (5) has only had a couple of starts for Tom George and could easily be on a lenient mark based on his hurdling form for Charlie Brookes (second in the 2014 Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen from just 2 lb lower). He was outclassed when taking on Altior in Grade 1 company last time, and should find this a lot easier.

14:05 - A competitive renewal of this Grade 1 novice. Four-year-old FRODON (10) gets a handy 7 lb allowance due to his age, and has already proven himself a tough novice by landing the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham in open-age company last time. More battle-hardened than many of this field, he should go close. ANIBALE FLY (2) was second in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse last time (conceded first run to the winner) and is also in with a big shout for Tony Martin.

14:40 - Despite the disappointing turnout, this race may still be won by a potential star. YANWORTH (4)'s only defeat over hurdles to date came in the Neptune (second to Yorkhill) at last season's Cheltenham Festival, and he progressed again to win the Coral Hurdle at Ascot on his first start this season, fending off the game Lil Rockerfeller who was match-fit (since finished second in the Long Walk Hurdle). Yanworth may well have ran in the same race, but for the emergence of fellow J.P. McManus-owned Unowhatimeanharry. A strong traveller over two and a half miles (and unbeaten over two miles over hurdles) Yanworth should be fully effective at the minimum trip, and can advertise his Champion Hurdle claims here (currently around 8/1 for that race).

15:15 - Another disappointing turnout, but one that features the much-anticipated clash between current Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack, and last year's winner CUE CARD (1). Thistlecrack, who demolished the field in last year's World Hurdle, has a perfect record over fences so far and remains a very exciting prospect now stepping outside of novice company for the first time. He has yet to be tested over fences to date, however, and his top-class stablemate Cue Card will provide the stiffest opposition to him by some margin. Cue Card looked better than ever when winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park last time (by 15 lengths from Coneygree) and gets the narrow vote over Thistlecrack here as the proven Grade 1 chaser.

15:45 - Muthabir isn't handicapped out of things from just 5 lb higher in the weights than when he won last time at Huntingdon, but this is a much more competitive affair (on paper, at least) and he will probably have to improve again to get the better of the likes of SPIRITOFTHEGAMES (9), who ran a promising race when fourth in a Grade 2 novice at Cheltenham in November on just his second ever start under rules. This is a significantly easier task and he should go close from what looks a workable opening mark. SOUTHPORT (15) is still lightly raced (three starts over hurdles to date) and could build on his second at Ffos Las from just 3 lb higher in the weights for the red-hot Nigel Twiston-Davies team. LISHEEN PRINCE (10) was clearly suited by the step up to two and a half miles at Ffos Las last time and again, should have more to come.


Win back Two Taffs in the 13:30

Placepot permutation:

12:55 - 2
13:30 - 3, 5
14:05 - 2, 10
14:40 - 4
15:15 - 1
15:45 - 9, 10, 15

12 lines


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