Monday’s Boxing Day meeting at Kempton Park is set to be a memorable one. In the Long Walk Hurdle (Grade 1), last year’s winner, Champ, attempts to go back-to-back. Punters will be all over Constitution Hill in the Christmas Hurdle, and the King George VI renewal is quite a competitive race.
The Long Walk – Mon, 26 December 2022 : 12:45 Kempton (3m½f)
The 2022 renewal is an intriguing race. Last year’s winner, Champ, made all at Newbury last time out despite a breath-taking rally from Paisley Park after the final fence. Not that these two will have it all their own way. Miranda, Paul Nicholl’s 7-year-old mare has taken to Kempton like a duck to water. Two from two at the track and upped in trip recently, she may have quite a bit to say about the outcome here under Harry Cobden.
Gary Moore’s Goshen is untried over this longer trip of 3 miles and cannot be ruled out. The Racing Post describe Goshen as “quirky” and that is an apt description. He hangs right and can be less than fluent. It will be interesting to see how he goes here.
Simarlarly, Hughie Morrison’s Not So Sleepy is untried over the longer distance. Despite this unknown, there is nothing to suggest that this gelding has quite the class to be competitive in this race.
The Christmas Hurdle – Mon, 26 December 2022 : 1:55 Kempton Park (2m)
Nicky Henderson’s “freakish” Constitution Hill is set to build on his brilliant performance in the Betfair Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November and enhance his growing reputation as one of the best hurdlers we have ever seen. Currently rated 173, there is nothing in this field that comes close to being able to challenge him.
His near destruction of Epatante in a virtually flawless display of hurdling at Newcastle was quite literally jaw-dropping. It had Matt Chapman salivating like a labrador retriever at a child’s buffet party.
It is likely that the Christmas Hurdle of 2022 will be a procession, despite the heavy rain that has fallen at Kempton this week. Stablemate, Epatante may give a better account of herself and run the heavy odds-on favourite closer in the mud. The race is merely a warm-up for Constitution Hill ahead of a potential showdown with Honeysuckle at Cheltenham in March.
Ladbrokes King George VI Chase – Mon, 26 December 2022: 2:30 Kempton Park (3m)
The latest renewal of this National Hunt ‘classic’ lacks a superstar in the Kauto Star or Desrt Orchid mould. Nevertheless, this has the potential to be an interesting race with L’Homme Press expected to go off as a strong favourite.
On their day, you could make a strong case for many in this race. Further down the card, for example, Ahoy Senor has already overturned L’Homme Press; albeit in April at Aintree. Not that there were any excuses. Bravemansgame has similar form against Ahoy Senor which makes the outcome a conundrum.
Personally, I have an inkling that Envoi Allen could be the one that is overlooked and one shouldn’t rule out former winner, Frodon. At 10-years-old, Paul Nicholl’s former winner might just have it in him to spring a surprise at 25-1.