New One to light up Christmas
Man On The Spot previews Boxing Day's feature action in the UK and Ireland featuring the King George at Kempton.
- Related Content
Yet another Graded race at the mercy of Willie Mullins, whose ANALIFET will be at very short odds after her destruction of useful stablemate Noble Inn at Fairyhouse and Punchestown where she's hardly been out of a canter. She's already favourite for the Triumph Hurdle and should pick up this nice prize en-route. Noble Inn may well be good enough to chase her home again, though Guitar Pete is probably more of a threat after his superb run in the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham where he made Royal Irish Hussar pull out all the stops with the remainder well beaten.
Loose Chips won over hurdles on this card last year and has been placed in both starts over fences. Ericht was clear of the third when just failing to catch Funny Star on his chasing bow and he'll know more today while Thunderstorm showed a bit more when third at Chepstow. Western Warhorse won't be far away if taking to the larger obstacles but Ohio Gold is proving hard to win with and God's Own makes his fencing debut off a stiff mark, though has been placed between the flags. URBAIN DE SIVOLA is another tackling the larger obstacles for the first time in public but Paul Nicholls isn't one to tilt at windmills with his novices and, reasonably handicapped, he gets the nod.
Grand National hero Auroras Encore reappears after his failure in the Scottish version a fortnight later and will begin his preparation for Aintree here. It's quite likely his stablemate Cloudy Too will have the edge after running well for a long way in the Hennessy with any further rain aiding his cause. SYDNEY PAGET is the youngest in the line-up but looked a tremendous prospect when beating Silver By Nature at Haydock where he was eased down to a walk after taking the race by the scruff of the neck. He'll improve again and looks the one to beat. Nuts N Bolts also galloped his rivals into the ground at Haydock and an end-to-end gallop is exactly what's required so he is likely to be in the shake-up. Cape Tribulation, who was quietly fancied for the Gold Cup in March, has disappointed but any sign of a return to form will see him in the mix while recent Cheltenham winner Alvarado can go well as he's another with the scope to do better.
Third Intention was third in this last year and this is not a great renewal of the Grade 1. He was trying to give Just A Par 7lb at Newbury but was beaten 14 lengths and his only victory over fences so far has come in a match. Just A Par will probably start favourite given his progressive profile but there's been plenty of rain around and GREEN FLAG would probably be the one best suited if the ground turned very soft. He has to step up again if he's to complete a four-timer over fences but that isn't out of the question as he jumps really well for a novice and stays extremely well. It will be a surprise if either Annacotty or Buachaill Alainn are good enough however.
My Tent Or Yours is a high-class hurdler, as he showed when easily winning the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on his reappearance. It's difficult to see either third Grumeti or sixth Duke Of Navan reversing the form here. But THE NEW ONE was equally impressive in landing a Grade 2 at Cheltenham 12 days ago when the ground was arguably faster than ideal. Sam Twiston-Davies is likely to have his mount up with the pace throughout on this sharper track and he can run the finish of Nicky Henderson's six-year-old. Sametegal, third in last season's Triumph Hurdle, has some useful form to his name but may struggle to make an impact against a couple of genuine Champion Hurdle contenders.
Willie Mullins, who has won this for the past two years, had the high-class pair CHAMPAGNE FEVER and Felix Yonger entered at the early stage and relies on the former. The 2012 dual championship bumper winner easily made the transition to hurdling winning Grade 1 races at Leopardstown and Cheltenham in the spring and, though making a couple of minor errors on his chasing debut at Punchestown last month, looked a tremendous prospect and should go in again though this is very much tougher. Defy Logic is a high-class performer who beat Golanbrook by 19 length on his chasing debut before giving Felix Yonger a run in a Punchestown Grade 2. He will ensure the selection doesn't have everything his own way as will Road To Riches, another who made a winning start over fences before a good third to Don Cossack at Fairyhouse with Art Of Logistics nine lengths behind. Trifolium was beaten a long way by Felix Yonger at Navan but pulled much too hard and is definitely better than he showed there.
LONG RUN could be a massive price in this as the race clearly brings out the best in the eight-year-old and amateur pilot Sam Waley-Cohen. The partnership were successful in 2010 and 12 months ago and, in between, only found the legendary Kauto Star a length-and-a-quarter too good. He had Champion Court, Cue Card and Riverside Threatre well beaten last year but Cue Card reversed the form in spectacular fashion in last month's betfair Chase at Haydock when staying on strongly to beat Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti, dispelling stamina doubts. The worry here is that Champion Court will take on Colin Tizzard's stable star for the lead and that could set things up for a finisher. Menorah was a long way behind Silviniaco Conti over 3m at Newbury in February and also looks held by Cue Card on the form book while Al Ferof has chosen a very tough race in which to try this trip for the first time under Rules, though did win over 3m in a point-to-point. Mount Benbulben won a Grade 1 novice chase at Punchestown in April but jumped poorly before unseating his rider on his reappearance at Down Royal and will likely find it tough going against these classy chasers.