Boxing Day Kempton Preview – Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle
Analysis of the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle
Kempton host a trio of top-class Grade 1 contests this Boxing Day, including the 2021 running of the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle. Our tipsters have provided their thoughts on each individual runner as well as a tip for the race included.
Glory And Fortune 33/1
Tom Lacey’s six-year-old GLORY AND FORTUNE landed back to back handicap wins at Plumpton and Ffos Las earlier this year but has failed in two subsequent starts in the Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle in November at Cheltenham and was a well-beaten fourth against Class 2 opposition at Newbury.
Tom Lacey’s charge now faces his toughest test to date racing in Grade 1 company for the first time and is readily overlooked in a high-quality field such as this.
Not So Sleepy 3/1
Hughie Morrison would have been delighted with the willing attitude displayed by NOT SO SLEEPY last time out in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. The nine-year-old rallied under pressure and joined Epatante on the line to force a dead heat.
Prior to that effort last time out, Not So Sleepy had run some solid races in Grade 1 company, running a screamer to finish fifth at 125/1 in the Champion Hurdle back in March before a respectable effort on the first start over 2m4f in the Betway Aintree Hurdle where he ultimately faded out of contention two from home.
Hughie Morrison’s charge is the most likely danger to Epatante after their recent encounter at Newcastle and his willingness and determined attitude will be a huge asset to him if the short-priced favourite underperforms.
Soaring Glory 6/1
Jonjo O’Neil landed back to back wins in the Christmas Hurdle back in 2002 and 2003 with Intersky Falcon and he will be hoping for a bold bid from his representative SOARING GLORY in this year’s renewal after winning two of his last four starts.
The six-year-old was a comfortable winner of the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February and ran well to finish fourth behind runaway Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Appreciate It at the Festival in March on his first try in Grade 1 company.
After a 228 day break, Soaring Glory returned in October to land Listed honours in at Ascot under jockey Tom Scudamore before something was seemingly amiss on his last start at Newbury where he disappointed as the market leader and trailed home last of the four.
It wouldn’t be a total surprise to see Jonjo O’Neil’s charge outrun his odds on just his second start in the top grade.
Alan King’s talented four-year-old TRITONIC was fancied to go close in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March after registering two impressive victories including in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton. However, he disappointed at Prestbury Park and was ultimately well beaten behind Henry De Bromhead’s Quilixios.
Tritonic returned in October this year after a layoff and although finishing second on reappearance in Class 2 company at Cheltenham, the four-year-old posted a much-improved display when finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
Connections will have been thrilled to see him return to the winner’s enclosure at Ascot earlier this month when staying on strongly to land a Grade 3 event at Ascot in the hands of regular rider Adrian Heskin.
Alan King will be confident of a big performance from Tritonic now that he has returned to form and the team at Barbury Castle will hope for a second win in this contest after Yanworth landed the 2016 renewal.
Successful in this contest in 2019, EPATANTE returns to Kempton in search of a second Christmas Hurdle success after being turned over and cramped odds in last seasons renewal behind Evan Williams’ Silver Streak.
The 2020 Champion Hurdle winner failed to retain her crown at this years Cheltenham Festival behind the unbeaten superstar mare Honeysuckle and was again left well behind when taking Henry De Bromhead’s mare on in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in April.
Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old returned in November after a seven-month absence and nothing could split the mare and Hughie Morrison’s nine-year-old Not So Sleepy come the winning line in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.
The four-time Grade 1 winner will be a warm order to take the Boxing Day showpiece and Nicky Henderson will be confident his mare can make it a record tenth success for him in this event.
Big Race Verdict
It will take a special performance from one of the other runners to lower the colours of EPATANTE who is by far the one they all have to beat and will have come on plenty for a recent dead heat in the Fighting Fifth, he can make it a fifth win at Grade 1 level. Of the remainder, Tritonic may give the selection most to think about now that he has rediscovered his form and returns to a track where he tasted Grade 2 success as a juvenile.