Kempton Boxing Day tips – Race-by-race selections for Thursday’s Boxing Day feature

Get Brian Healy's race-by-race selections for Kempton's Boxing Day racecard on Thursday, featuring the King George VI Chase.

A real Christmas cracker awaits punters on Boxing Day Thursday where it is King George VI Chase day at Kempton, and the three-mile jumps highlight dominates a fantastic card at the Sunbury venue which also includes the Grade One Christmas Hurdle, as well as the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.

12:50 – Get Your £1 Ladbrokes Free Bet Today Novices’ Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m
1:20 – Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap) Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 2m4½f
1:55 – Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (In Memory Of Nigel Clark) (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
2:30 – Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m
3:05 – Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
3:40 – Ladbrokes Football “Acca-Boosty” Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (3yo+ 0-140) 2m5f

The Boxing Day fixture – the first of two days’ top-class jumps racing action at Kempton – could have some bearing on the Cheltenham Festival in March, and punters are in for a real treat as some of the jumps game’s biggest players strut their stuff on Thursday.

Brian Healy assesses the Boxing Day racecard at Kempton, and he gives his selections in every race in what promises to be an unmissable afternoon of jumps action.

12:50 – Get Your £1 Ladbrokes Free Bet Today Novices’ Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m

VEGAS BLUE (2/1, Coral) is unbeaten in two starts in bumpers, latterly winning a Listed contest at Huntingdon, and Nicky Henderson’s charge can make a winning transition to hurdling where she can land her hat-trick.

The Getaway filly has looked a really useful prospect in those two outings, latterly running out a four lengths’ winner over Wynn House where she scored easily, and there could be more to come from her as she switches her attentions to hurdling.

The sole filly in the field, she gets plenty of weight from her rivals which could make all the difference, and she can take full advantage of the concession at the weights she receives to strike at the first time of asking over obstacles and she can add to her trainer’s good record in this race with a win.

Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson can get Boxing Day off to a winning start.

1:20 – Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap) Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 2m4½f

DOCTOR DEX (7/1, Ladbrokes) could be worth siding with having found only one too good over course and distance last time out; but with the potential for improvement, the Oscar gelding could get back to winning ways.

Tom George’s charge was a very useful hurdler last term, scoring back-to-back wins at Wetherby and Doncaster before posting a very creditable seventh behind Early Doors in the Martin Pipe Hurdle. He ran another creditable race in defeat when finishing sixth at Aintree in Grade Three company, and he made a successful switch to chasing when returning from a break to score at Ascot in November.

The third from that race has won since, and he possibly just found himself with too much weight over this course and distance later in November where he was beaten into the runner-up berth behind Generous Day to whom he was giving 8lbs.

He could have more to offer over fences, and he probably has scope from this mark if handling the ground given his winning form has come on a less testing surface. But he has handled soft in the past, and he can give a good account of himself here.

1:55 – Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (In Memory Of Nigel Clark) (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m

A cracking renewal of this Grade One prize could go the way of BLACK OP (3/1, Coral) who ought to be suited by a sharp three miles, and Tom George’s charge can get back on the winning trail.

A Grade One winner as a hurdler, he wasn’t disgraced in a couple of chase starts last term behind Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation respectively before reverting to hurdles for the second half of the season although he wasn’t at his best.

However, back over fences this term he has looked improved by a switch to more forceful tactics and he ran out a ready winner over Mr Antolini on his chase debut before throwing up some stern resistance against the high-class Champwhere he was beaten less than two lengths but finished clear of the third horse home.

This is a step back up in distance to three miles, but he was a winner in the point-to-point sphere previously and a sharp three miles could prove ideal. This certainly demands he be at his best taking on some classy rivals, but he could get a soft lead in front and may prove hard to pass as a consequence.

Black Op can win the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.

2:30 – Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m

Nicky Henderson has won this race eight times in the past, including the the last two renewals with Buveur D’air two years ago and the defending champion Verdana Blue who caused an upset in this race to claim the spoils twelve months ago.

However, it could be another of the yard’s runners in FUSIL RAFFLES (7/4, Ladbrokes) who potentially continues the Seven Barrows’ trainer’s winning run in this race, and the Saints Des Saints gelding should come a bundle for his winning reapperance in the recent Elite Hurdle.

Sent off at 4/7, he certainly didn’t win in the style of an odds-on chance; but it was his first run of the season, and he took on a race-fit rival so the success has to be creditable given he raced keenly for most of the race on ground that was probably as soft as he would have wanted.

However, despite the negatives he still managed to extend his winning run to three, and he already has course-winning form in the book having won impressively here on debut back in February in the Adonis Hurdle prior to beating Fakir D’oudairies in a Grade One at Punchestown later in the campaign.

He is sure to be sharper for his reappearance, and if settling better here then he ought to prove tough to beat although this looks a very strong renewal of this Grade One prize, and he can extend his unbeaten record.

3:05 – Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m

Only six runners go to post for the feature race of the day, and while Paul Nicholls boasts a strong hand with defending champion Clan Des Obeaux and the Altior-conquering Cyrname, it could be LOSTINTRANSLATION (15/8, Unibet) who comes out on top and cements his claims as a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.

The Flemensfirth gelding gradually got his act together over fences last term, following up defeats on his first two outings over the larger obstacles to win the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Years’ Day, after which he came up short against Defi Du Seuil in starts at Sandown and Cheltenham respectively.

Stepped up to three miles at Aintree by trainer Colin Tizzard, the rising star vanquished Clan Des Obeaux to claim the Grade One Mildmay Novices’ Chase, and he is 2-2 this term with a bloodless Carlisle victory followed by a win in the recent Betfair Chase where he saw off Haydock course-specialst and dual-winner Bristol De Mai.

He appeared to score a shade readily, and he likely has more to offer still where he is unbeaten at three-miles over fences. With soft ground no issue, he’s likely to get a decent pace to this contest with Aso and Cyrname – who has stamina to prove over this trip – likely to force the issue.

He hasn’t looked short on speed himself in his races over this trip, and so with the potential for better still he could be the answer to take this prize before training his sights on Cheltenham’s Blue Riband in March and a possible £1million bounty for connections.


Lostintranslation can continue his rise to the top by winning the King George VI Chase for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power.

3:40 – Ladbrokes Football “Acca-Boosty” Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (3yo+ 0-140) 2m5f

Quite a difficult puzzle to solve, with more than a couple of these not to consistent, so it might pay to chance on MR PUMBLECHOOK (11/2, Ladbrokes) to find further improvement on the back of his recent runner-up effort at Newbury last month.

Alan King’s charge was a Plumpton winner last term in soft ground before running below his best next time in a Cheltenham Listed contest won by Jarveys Plate, and he was unable to cut much ice in a couple of subsequent runs at Huntingdon and Exeter respectively.

The Midnight Legend gelding has however returned from a break in better fettle, possibly needing the run when finishing fourth back at Plumpton on his return to action before chasing home The Cashel Man on his next outing where despite finishing ten lengths’ adrift of the winner was clear of the third.

He might appreciate a softer surface which he ought to get here, and he could still have the scope for better despite being raised 3lbs for that effort, although the claim of his young rider helps to offset his additional burden, and In a competitive closer he could prove the answer.


12:50 – VEGAS BLUE (2/1, Coral
1:20 – DOCTOR DEX (7/1, Ladbrokes)
1:55 – BLACK OP (3/1, Coral)
2:30 – FUSIL RAFFLES (7/4, Ladbrokes)
3:05 – LOSTINTRANSLATION (15/8, Unibet)
3:40 – MR PUMBLECHOOK (11/2, Ladbrokes)