Katie Walsh: I'm siding with L'Homme Presse in the King George
The Betway ambassador previews the best of the racing from Kempton, Leopardstown and Limerick on Boxing Day.
I want to start by wishing all the readers of my blog a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! I hope you all get stuck into plenty of food before sitting on the sofa on St Stephens’ Day - or Boxing Day, as they call it in England – to enjoy all of the top-class racing that is on offer!
The re-arranged Long Walk Hurdle (12:45) looks really competitive, doesn’t it? I think Champ is the most talented horse in the race, but he rarely puts up two good performances in a row. Now is his time to shine, especially with this division not having a standout candidate outside of Flooring Porter, who we’ll see in Ireland next week.
Miranda needs to improve plenty to get to this level. I’m not sure I could trust Goshen, but it wouldn’t be the biggest shock if he turned up with a great performance and then failed to back it up the next day.
At a bigger price, I did think Not So Sleepy was interesting. He’s got a touch of class. He dead-heated in the Fighting Fifth last year and is a dour stayer on the flat. I wonder if this step up in trip over hurdles will bring our more improvement in him. Time will tell!
If I was asked which horse I would like to ride in the Kauto Star (13:20), it would be McFabulous . These are his optimum conditions, he’s much better going right handed on a flat track and he’s been very good in two starts over fences this season. I don’t think these horses will be the best of the staying novice chasers, but they’ll all be winning races, that’s for sure.
I know it’s a not a great betting proposition, but you can’t help but be excited to see Constitution Hill again in the Christmas Hurdle (13:55). He was unreal last year, and he looked unreal again in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on his reappearance. The world is his oyster, and I can’t wait to see him again.
I’m going to side with L’Homme Presse in the King George (14:30). I thought he was awesome at Cheltenham last year and his weight carrying performance at Newcastle last time was very good. He’s got something about him and he’s clearly improved again throughout the summer. I have been a fan of Bravemansgame for a long time, but I wasn’t in love with the way he went past the line at Wetherby. I’m not sure he’ll have much more improvement in him and this is a much tougher test.
Envoi Allen has always promised to come good and, while no Grade 1 race is a gimme, this is slightly easier than other King Georges in the past. My concern with him is the fact this race often turns into a battle of stamina and I’m not sure he’s going to be finding extra at the end of three miles.
The Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Chase looks a two horse race between Gerri Colombe and Kilcruit. Gordon trains Gerri Colombe, and he’s got some team of novice chasers for this season. He’s unbeaten and still lightly raced, so there’s no telling how good he could be. Kilcruit is obviously very good but didn’t get his head in front much last season and I wonder if he’s got a slight kink in him.
I’m always at Leopardstown over Christmas. It’s part of the tradition for the Walsh family. The racing is always outstanding – I love it.
Lossiemouth bolted up on her debut at Fairyhouse, delivering on the hype that was spoken about her beforehand. Danny Mullins gave her a great ride on the day and I think there’s more to come from here as she went wide and quickened twice in the race, which was impressive. She showed speed coming to the second last and then again away from the last hurdle. Those gears are possessed by good horses. She’s already favourite for the Triumph Hurdle and a win will only see her shorten up.
Fil Dor is another from the Cullentra team of fine novices who are going to take plenty of beating. Getting the four-year-old weight allowance is going to make him a tough nut to crack. Gordon thinks a lot of him and he’s shown that on the course too. He was good over hurdles; he was chasing home Vauban for plenty of last season and that is very good form as they think he’s a Champion Hurdle horse. He was good at Navan on his debut over fences where he didn’t put a foot wrong. I hope he puts in a similar round of jumping. He’ll be wanting to put himself firmly in the mix for a clash with Jonbon and El Fabiolo in the Arkle at Cheltenham, which could be a cracker!
Shan Blue seems to be lots of people's bankers at Christmas, running off 148 in the Roland Merick at Wetherby. I have to agree, he’s got plenty going for him. He was running away in the Charie Hall last season before tripping up at the last. He then ran OK in the Ryanair and wasn’t beaten far at Aintree in a good handicap. If they’ve had a clear run with him now, he’s got to be in the mix off his current mark.
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