Kempton all set for Christmas highlight

Conditions at Kempton are set fair for a blockbuster day of racing on Boxing Day.

The feature Ladbrokes King George VI Chase may only have attracted six runners but they include two previous winners in the Paul Nicholls pair of Bravemansgame and Frodon, a dual Ryanair hero in Allaho, last season’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase scorer The Real Whacker, an American Grand National winner in Hewick and the enigmatic Shishkin.

On top of that is the reappearance of Nicky Henderson’s superstar champion hurdler Constitution Hill in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle.

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With a fascinating renewal of the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase which sees Giovinco, Hermes Allen and the French five-year-old Il Est Francais compete, racegoers are set for a real treat.

The strong winds that have prevailed over recent days did cause a delay to Hewick’s ferry but he arrived safely a few hours later than planned.

Clerk of the course Barney Clifford said: “Shark Hanlon’s original ferry was cancelled so he had to go via Dublin in the end.

“They’ve all been out this morning, the French horse (Il Est Francais), Allaho and Hewick. They all had a little canter.

“We’re forecast a couple of millimetres today and we could do with it to counteract yesterday’s drying. The going stick is reading 7.2 and that is good, good to soft in places. Those who were on it this morning said it was beautiful.

“We’ve got a bit of rain coming today which won’t have an affect on the ground but then Boxing Day night we could get up to 10 millimetres, it looks like being a wet morning on the 27th so what going we will have then I have no idea.

“The King George is a cracker. Shark Hanlon said to me this morning that all six had a chance, you couldn’t rule any out – even Frodon. He’s obviously delighted with conditions because Hewick wants good ground.

“I’m thrilled with conditions, it’s all natural, it hasn’t been irrigated and I was grateful we got that rain last Tuesday, we got 13 millimetres and it’s been slowly drying since – they are nice conditions.”

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