A maximum of ten top-class chasers will contest the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day after yesterday’s five-day declaration stage. The market continues to be led by Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite who is 11/8 with BetVictor with Bristol De Mai 7/2 and both Thistlecrack and Fox Norton 6s.
Soft ground is the order of the day at Exeter and Waiheke will be strongly fancied to follow up her recent C&D win in the opener. The filly carries a 6lbs penalty for that success, however, and I prefer the chances of the Irish point winner Ebonys Encore (12.35) who shaped with considerable promise at Market Rasen back in October.
Shaama Grise is fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time in the valuable Mares’ Novices’ Chase for David Pipe whose stable could do with a fillip after the sad loss of Starchitect at Cheltenham. The mare ran a very good race on her chase debut at Plumpton and receives 6lbs from Casablanca Mix (1.05) but I must give the vote to the Nicky Henderson-trained mare who impressed when scoring at Huntingdon last time under today’s pilot.
That form has been franked by the excellent run of the runner up Theatre Territory in a hot race at Cheltenham last weekend and I thought the selection’s jumping was fast and fluent last time.
The four-year-old Siruh Du Lac won at Bangor last time from a 6lbs lower mark and is obviously open to significant improvement but The Cider Maker (1.35) ran a promising race on his comeback at Chepstow and gets the vote for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power.
Venetia Williams has had a quiet spell of late, but the yard had a winner at Hereford at the weekend and the hope is that Mixchievous (2.40) can follow up last month’s Chepstow success from a 5lbs higher mark.
Over at Towcester and Dan Skelton’s Atlantic Storm is interesting on his chase debut. This lightly-raced five-year-old has hinted that he would make into a better chaser than hurdler and I thought he ran a promising race over timber on his reappearance at Sandown. Today’s step up to 2m 5f is likely to suit on breeding and it will be interesting to see what the market says on his first chase start.
The vote, however, goes to the dual point winner Indian Native (3.00) who is fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time for Alex Hales and hinted that she might prefer to go right-handed having finished a beaten favourite at Warwick last time.
Some Finish (12.55) has been raised 6lbs for winning here last month over slightly further but he has bits of form which suggest he might be able to follow up for Robin Dickin who has his string in good form.
At Southwell and Gustavo Fring (1.15) drops back to the minimum trip having showed speed in both starts over 7f and he must have every chance if adapting to today’s fibresand surface and he is half-brother to an all-weather winner.