Alan Thomson has four bets on Kempton's mouth-watering Boxing Day card, plus a hot fancy in the big race at Wetherby.
LOSTINTRANSLATION (3.05) possesses the necessary speed and stamina to outpoint Cyrname in a fascinating Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton’s traditional Boxing Day fixture.
Colin Tizzard’s gelding always promised to prove an even better horse when stepped up in distance and Lostintranslation duly announced his arrival on the big stage by easing past course specialist Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase at Haydock. Hold-up tactics worked a treat and Robbie Power will be keen to deliver his mount as late as possible, with a good clip virtually guaranteed.
Cyrname doesn’t need to lead but usually bowls along up front. His magnificent defeat of Altior was his third straight Ascot success and he clearly enjoys going right-handed, scoring here in the 2017 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase. His latest victory came over 2m 5f and this further stamina examination may prove within his compass as he has travelled strongly through the line in recording previous successes. Cyrname sets the bar very high but may not prove quite as awesome over three miles around Kempton. This could be Lostintranlation’s big day.
Clan Des Obeaux had too many guns for Thistlecrack 12 months ago and will make a bold bid to retain his Kempton crown. However, this looks a hotter renewal and Harry Cobden prefers Cyrname.
Footpad reeled off five straight victories as a novice chaser, including a wide-margin verdict in the 2018 Arkle at Cheltenham. He returned to action with a facile success over 2m 6f at Thurles last month and is capable of hitting the frame.
The Christmas Hurdle often cuts up badly but with 10 runners declared it is a much more attractive betting medium this year. Nicky Henderson saddles last year’s winner Verdana Blue but the ground will be a good bit slower than 12 months ago when she pipped Buveur D’Air. Henderson has another significant string to his bow in FUSIL RAFFLES (2.30), unbeaten in three UK starts.
Still only a four-year-old, he made hard work of edging past Grand Sancy in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last month but Fusil Raffles should have come on from that initial run. He proved a very smart juvenile hurdler last season, landing the Adonis Hurdle here in February before thumping Fakir D’Oudairies at the Punchestown festival.
Little separates Ballyandy and Ch’tibello on their run behind Call Me Lord in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham. Ch’tibello was less than six lengths adrift of Yanworth and The New One when third in the 2016 Christmas Hurdle and has each-way prospects.
SLATE HOUSE (1.55) had his many supporters groaning in frustration after crashing out at the penultimate fence when travelling strongly in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Slate House has since enjoyed a confidence-booster at Huntingdon, although he was made to work hard to land the odds. The Tizzard-trained gelding looks the most likely winner of the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, with Black Op, Master Tommytucker and Danny Whizzbang well in the mix.
STAR OF LANKA (3.40) has very solid each-way prospects in the 17-runner handicap hurdle, with some firms offering five places.
The five-year-old was no match for rejuvenated front-runner The Cashel Man at Newbury at the end of November and has four lengths to make up on runner-up Mr Pumblechook . Cheek-pieces are applied and Star Of Lanka will appreciate this softer ground, having finished second in the mud at Sandown last month. Star Of Lanka also posted a fourth in the Lanzarote Hurdle over course and distance in January.
Laskadine is a fairly unexposed four-year-old and is open to plenty of improvement in handicaps wearing the JP McManus colours.
TOP VILLE BEN (2.10) appeared to have the valuable Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in the bag before idling on the flat and suitable recompense is at hand in the 888Sport Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby. It will not be plain sailing for this dual course winner, with the likes of Newbury victor Bennys King and top weight Lake View Lad in opposition, but he often excels on these flat, galloping tracks.