Ed Quigley: Get Ready for the Real Christmas Cracker - The King George

After Turkey, a few beverages, and once family members have pretended to like the mundane socks they have been given, naturally, all eyes will be on the showpiece event at Kempton on December 26.

The King George is the only place to start, and the class of 2021 are a stellar line up, with quality and depth throughout the field. MINELLA INDO and CLAN DES OBEAUX are battling it out at the head of the market for favouritism. The former, last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner adds some festive spice to this, but it has to be questioned as to whether he can be as effective at Kempton as he can at his beloved Cheltenham. He has stamina in abundance, so does he have the gears to show his best hand on a track that places much more emphasis on speed as opposed to the staying ability? All in all I am not really sure, but it is great to see him in the field, and win lose or draw, it won’t dent his chances of retaining his crown at Prestbury Park in around 12 weeks time.

You could consider Clan Des Obeaux somewhat of a Kempton specialist. The winner of this race in 2018 and 2019, he only managed to fill the third place slot 12 months ago, with the hard race he endured at Haydock beforehand blamed for his slightly underwhelming display. Paul Nicholls has changed things up this time around by sending him straight to the race without a prep run. Looking at his profile, it could well be considered a negative, given that he doesn’t have a great record first time out for the season. No doubt the Ditcheat maestro will have switched things up to try and get him brought straight to the boil first time out.

FRODON caused an upset in this last year when winning at 20/1 under his habitual and willing partner Bryony Frost. Expect much of the same here in regards to front-running, swashbuckling tactics. Despite being on the eve of his tenth birthday, the recent Grade 1 winning evidence from Down Royal suggests he is far from a back number, and is sure to play a major part here.

You can make a case in some shape or form for many of the remainder, but I would like to concentrate on the Nicky Henderson representatives for my bets. CHANTRY HOUSE has become a bit of a winning machine over fences; albeit his form in the purest sense falls down on what others have achieved. However, he has yet had the opportunity to strut his stuff at the highest level, and his potential to break into the big league cannot be sniffed at. Three miles around Kempton looks ideal for this Grade 1 winning chaser. Stablemate MISTER FISHER is no back number; in an ideal world a warm up race would have suited, but he has had to come here a fresh horse after a slight heart murmur. He is two from two at this venue, and his neck defeat to Frodon back in April, if taken in the strictest sense, leaves him overpriced at a standout 40/1 with Bet365.

Chantry House, 1pt win 11/2 (generally)
Mister Fisher, 0.5 pts each-way 33/1 (Bet365)



On the rest of the Kempton Boxing Day card, I think DANNY KIRWAN can go one better than his chase debut, in the Ladbrokes Handicap Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Off a mark of 133, and returning to a right-handed track, he looks solid value at 6/1 with underfoot conditions likely to suit.

There is the prospect of the mouth watering clash between BRAVEMANSGAME and AHOY SENOR in the Kauto Star Novices; I would be with the Paul Nicholls runner here as I think three miles at Kempton will be much more to his liking, whereas I think Ahoy Senor may be better served by a real galloping test elsewhere. It really is an intriguing clash but I think the representative of Team Ditcheat has the tools required to win this in arguably the most exciting clash of the day.

A day later at the Welsh Grand National,  the Colin Tizzard trained ELEGANT ESCAPE looks worth an each-way flutter at 25/1. With plenty of rain forecast at the Welsh venue over the upcoming days, the prospect of attritional conditions would very much suit the nine-year-old who had a fitness spin over hurdles at Sandown recently after 631 days on the sidelines. He won this race in 2018 off a mark of 151, and he was 6th a year later off 160. Off 156 he is handicapped to be in the mix from an each-way point of view. Apart from that sixth placed effort, his course form figures read 121, so he can go well at a price.

In the Wayward Lad at Kempton, I expect the Alan King trained EDWARDSTONE to have too much class for his rivals and can land this en route to a crack at the Arkle.

Danny Kirwan, 1.20 Kempton, December 26, 1pt win 6/1 (generally)
Bravemansgame, 1.55 Kempton, December 26, 3pts win 10/11 (Ladbrokes)
Edwardstone, 1.20 Kempton, December 27, 1pt win (no prices)
Elegant Escape, 2.50 Chepstow, December 27, 0.5pts e/w 25/1 (generally)



A PLUS TARD will take all the beating in the Savills Chase, but as an each-way alternative, the 2019 winner DELTA WORK looks a fair price at 12/1. He also won the Grade 1 Novice Chase on this card in 2018. His jumping can be his weak link, but this racecourse is very much his ‘backyard’, and it would be far from a shock that if he puts in a clear round he is involved at the business end of proceedings.

The same connections are likely to be represented in Leopardstown’s Christmas Hurdle on the same day with ABACADABRAS, who has questions to answer stamina-wise, but very much shaped as though he will come on for the run when third behind Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace last time out. I think he can come on a bundle for that outing, and has the potential to be a force in the Staying Hurdle division this season.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and I will be back next week for a look at Cheltenham’s New Year meeting. Stay safe and have fun!


Delta Work , Leopardstown, December 28, 0.5pts e/w 12/1 (generally)
Abacadabras, Leopardstown, December 28, 1pt win 7/1 (generally)

Craig Jones

Craig Jones

US Sports lover and watcher of the EFL, Craig will guide you through the NFL, NHL and English football