Perfect conditions ahead of King George day

Conditions at Kempton ahead of the two-day Ladbrokes Christmas Festival are set to be “perfect” for Boxing Day.

While the going may ride considerably slower for Sunday’s meeting, which sees Altior return to action in the Desert Orchid Chase, runners in the King George VI Chase on Saturday should have no complaints.

Clerk of the course Barney Clifford said on Christmas Day: “We had a sharp frost overnight, but because the ground temperatures are so warm at the minute it was only a grass frost.

“It walks as good as I’ve ever had it really. I’ve called it good to soft, but one can find good ground as well.

“Kempton is unique, though, in that it can walk quick but ride a little bit slower, but it’s perfect conditions and I’m looking forward to a fantastic couple of days.

“There is heavy rain forecast on Boxing Day night, which will be a bit of a deterrent for some on the second day, but we’ll see what happens.

“There is the odd risk of a shower overnight tonight. I’ve spoken to my father in Cork and he always says they get the weather before we do and hopefully it won’t be too bad.”

Looking ahead to the actual racing, Clifford said: “There have been plenty of dual winners of the King George, but three-time winners are exclusive company and that is what Clan Des Obeaux is aiming to do.

“It’s a great race, to have four horses rated above 170 is fantastic. Clan Des Obeaux seems really well suited to Kempton, he’s better there than anywhere it seems, but he’s got a serious rival in Cyrname, I think.

“Cyrname has had the perfect preparation, has good course form and compared to last year, when he had a very hard race against Altior, this year Clan had a hard race at Haydock.

Epatante was an impressive winner of last year's Christmas Hurdle
Epatante was an impressive winner of last year’s Christmas Hurdle (Steven Paston/PA)

“Away from the big one we’ve got Epatante again in the Christmas Hurdle. She was awesome last year and is so quick from A to B. But don’t underestimate Silver Streak.

“The Kauto Star (Novices’ Chase) looks to have plenty of depth this year too, it’s a cracking card – it’s just a shame there will be no spectators.”