Welcome rainfall at Kempton ahead of Christmas Festival

Kempton received the welcome Christmas present of 10 millimetres of rain overnight ahead of the two-day Ladbrokes Christmas Festival, starting tomorrow.

With little rain falling in December, the precipitation during Christmas Eve into Christmas Day has eased ground conditions to good to soft, good in places

Clerk of the course and racing director Barney Clifford said on Christmas Day: “We are now good to soft, good in places. We had 10 millimetres of rain overnight which was delightful. We are forecast possibly another five to 10mm over the course of the next two to three days. The ground has taken it remarkably well. It’s a 50-50 ratio today.”

The proof of the pudding on the state of the going was given by the three Irish contenders for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

“The horses that cantered round this morning just made a nice print. It’s lovely ground,” said Clifford.

“Willie Mullins’ two King George runners Asterion Forlonge and Tornado Flyer and Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Indo had a good leg stretch and a nice canter round. We’re all ready for the big day tomorrow.”

On his personal opinion on the big race, Clifford said: “Asterion Forlonge can make a few mistakes but you can’t really do that at Kempton. If he gets into a good rhythm and jumps well, and puts it together he could be anything but Paul (Nicholls) is very excited about Clan Des Obeaux. You know when Paul speaks to you his voice says he wants to bag that 13th King George.

Tritonic (left) bids for another course and distance success at Kempton when he lines-up for the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle
Tritonic (left) bids for another course and distance success at Kempton when he lines-up for the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle (Nigel French/PA)

“It’s going to be fantastic. Numerically select in those other two Grade Ones but it’s top quality.

“It’s going to be a cracking Christmas Hurdle. Tritonic, who has obviously won at Kempton in the Adonis before faltering in the Triumph. He won well at Ascot last week so he’s proven course and distance at Kempton so it will be interesting. Epatante, obviously, is the one to beat.”

A decent crowd is expected over the two days after last year’s meeting was staged behind closed doors due to the pandemic.

“Numbers have been really good all the way through, I believe. Premier badges have been sold out but there will be tickets available on the gate for both days. We’re hoping for a well-attended event,” added Clifford.

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