If the awesome Kauto Star jumps his fences on Boxing Day in the Stan James King George, he will not be beaten. The killer statistic is that he is the highest-rated chaser since the sainted Desert Orchid, who also absolutely loved Kempton at Christmas and won this race three times. The conditions and distance look tailor-made for Kauto Star, but watch out for Monet’s Garden to put his jumping to the test.
Before the main event, there is a fine aperitif in the Stan James Christmas Hurdle. If Iktitaf makes the trip from Ireland he should not be opposed. Noel Meade’s rising star rattled up a four-timer last term and made an impressive debut this season when holding the top-class Asian Maze. Iktitaf can justify his place near the top of the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle market and looks the main Irish threat to Detroit City. If he chooses to stay at home, Afsoun is the best alternative.
The Coral Welsh Grand National on the following day promises to be a war of attrition in the mud. It is a race where stamina counts for as much as class. Omni Cosmo Touch looks an ideal type. He was racing in another county five out in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup but finished well to claim fourth. He is nicely weighted but to take part will need others to defect. If Omni Cosmo Touch doesn’t make the line-up, Halcon Generaldais holds a favourite’s chance.
Back at Kempton on the same day, the Desert Orchid Chase is a welcome addition to the calendar. Voy Por Ustedes was easily beaten by none other than Kauto Star in the Tingle Creek last time but can show that he is no also-ran in the top two-mile races this term by bouncing back here.
1:45 Kempton (Boxing Day) – Iktitaf (win) [if absent, Afsoun – win]
2:20 Kempton (Boxing Day) – Kauto Star (win)
3:00 Kempton (Boxing Day) Thames (win)
2:05 Chepstow (27th) – Omni Cosmo Touch (each-way) [if absent, Halcon Generaldais – win]
2:35 Kempton (27th) – Voy Por Ustedes (win)