Dynaste gets King George vote
Top jockey Wayne Hutchinson looks ahead to the feature races at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
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The William Hill King George VI Chase is the highlight on Boxing Day and on paper, Cue Card should confirm the form from his win in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
He is a worthy favourite but the one I like is runner-up Dynaste. From the back of the third last to two out he looked the most likely winner and he has just got tired.
He is entitled to improve for that run and reverse those placings - he is a horse I always liked as a novice last year and if I had to choose one to ride in the race, then it would be Dynaste.
I don't think that there are any question marks concerning Cue Card staying three miles now. Kempton is a similar type of flat track to Haydock so he has put to bed any stamina doubts.
Al Ferof is open to improvement and we know he has some class. He had a good experience around Ascot on his comeback and although he only had French Opera to beat, that horse is a solid yardstick.
The only query would be does Al Ferof have the experience - he has the class.
Long Run won the race last year and connections obviously hope that a pair of blinkers will sharpen him up and rekindle the fire.
He has questions to answer for me and there are others in the field ahead of him I would rather ride.
I am sure that Paul Nicholls will have left a little bit to work on with Silviniaco Conti after the Betfair Chase. He was still going very well three out also and it would not surprise me to see that piece of form at Haydock be the key to the King George.
But it is Dynaste who ticks all the boxes and he is the one I would take over Cue Card.
Grumeti represents the Alan King yard in the Christmas Hurdle and he will be sharper for the run in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.
I said in a previous column that match practice is what he needs and he had flick over nine hurdles on Monday morning when Choc (Thornton) was very happy with him.
He does need to find improvement on ratings with The New One and My Tent Or Yours but hopefully we will see a sharper horse.
He won at Kempton as a juvenile and I think connections are hoping that the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham will be the aim in the long term. He will get this run under his belt and then we will know more clearly after Thursday which way to go.
Both The New One and My Tent Or Yours are very exciting and you can be nothing but impressed with what the former has achieved so far.
But I do like My Tent Or Yours. I thought he had more in the tank when he beat me on Grumeti at Newcastle and better value for his winning margin.
He came past me effortlessly from the back of the second last and he would be my selection in the race.
It was obviously a big blow to hear that Huntingdon has been abandoned because of the weather as I had five booked rides on Boxing Day.
The storm started about 9am on Monday morning and I don't think it stopped until 5am on Tuesday - it was just constant.
So everything is up in the air and I am just chasing leads at the moment to see if there are any other mounts available at another meeting.
So time to look back at Ascot on Saturday where I thought Bless The Wings ran a lovely race.
For me, he does get three miles and I think that better ground is going to suit him. He improved from his first run at Ascot and feels like he is ready to win so it is a case of him dropping into the right race.
He is on a winnable mark of 146 so he just needs things to fall right for him on the day.
It was awful conditions by the time The Ladbroke was run at the end of the card and pre-race, it was thought that those were conditions Totalize wanted.
He was very disappointing and he never gave me any feel - he was beaten after the third hurdle and too far out to make any excuses. Hopefully something comes to light for connections as that was just not his running.
He certainly rode like a horse where something was amiss.
On to Bangor on Sunday and Unknown Legend is learning as he finished an encouraging fourth.
He is still keen but he did give himself a better chance in his race than on his previous two runs - he actually saw the race out better as well.
It was horrible ground which I don't think any horse would like and I would imagine now he would qualify for handicaps where hopefully he can find his level.