We came close on Saturday to pulling off a decent couple of wagers. The main selection Bishops Road drifted in the betting from 5/1 out to 13/2 and I would hope that readers took advantage and placed an each-way wager at the longer odds. I thought this 3m4f handicap chase was weak beforehand, and that proved correct as there were several fallers early-on and on for the final half of the race it was really only between Bishops Road and Red Infantry. I expected this marathon trip to bring out the best in Bishops Road, but I was not expecting an improved performance from the eventual winner RED INFANTRY who stuck well to his task and couple prove useful to follow over this sort of trip this season. We were unlucky to meet an unexposed chaser in Red Infantry who was winning his 3rd chase race from 7 runs. Back in 4th, Two Smokin Barrels ran like he needed the race, and we can (and should) see a marked improvement in him next time.
In the Betfair Chase, I was right to favour Native River over Might Bite, and thought I was on the winner as the field went down the back straight for the final time. But when eventual winner BRISTOL DE MAI took up the lead 4-out there was only going to be one winner. This was a career-best from Bristol De Mai, although it's difficult to rate his win in the same race last season as Cue Card threw-in the towel on that occasion and BDM won by a distance. However, this winning run was still about 5lb shy of the Gold Cup winning performance from Native River in March, and Native River also ran a higher-rated performance when winning the Welsh National. Whether BDM can improve on this and be a contender at Cheltenham in March is debatable, as he was unable to cope with Definitly Red in the "Cotswold" Chase there last January. There's talk of him going for the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day but, if he were mine, I'd be sending him to Chepstow (where he won a hurdle race) and going for the Welsh National as he looks to have abundant stamina, loves the mud (and it's almost guaranteed to be soft/heavy there) and carrying a big weight does not seem to slow him down.
Before I leave this race, there was a much-improved performance from THISTLECRACK in 3rd and if he can improve for this run then he is a very live contender for the King George, especially as he's won the race before. The odds of 8/1 quoted though, are very skinny. Better value in that race may come in supporting a winner on Saturday at Ascot – POLITOLOGUE. I rated this win in the 2m5f Christy 1965 Chase a career-best from him and shows that he is one of the best chasers in training at the moment. He's raced twice before at Kempton winning both times very easily and Although he's not raced at 3-miles before, it should not prove a problem. I don't think Kempton will suit Native River who I think will miss the race and go to Newbury for the "Denman" in February, and the jury has to be out now on Might Bite after Saturday as he seems to have an "issue". Again, I think the track won't suit Bristol De Mai, and Altior will be most unlikely to go for the race. Which leaves the unbeaten chaser Waiting Patiently: a winner at Kempton and Ascot last season he showed himself to be in the top-drawer when beating Cue Card in February. The worry with this horse though, is will he turn up on Boxing Day? On form, there is not much between POLITOLOGUE and Waiting Patiently, and with other horses in the race looking either outclassed or unsuited by the course, the 10/1 about POLITOLOGUE (Bet365 and William Hill) looks generous.
King George VI Chase @ Kempton on Boxing Day
POLITOLOGUE - £10 win @ 10/1 (available with Bet365 and William Hill)
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