Christmas Star still burning bright!

CHRISTMAS was lovely, but there was something missing - and I’m not talking about sprouts or brandy butter. Well, that something was Kempton’s King George which was claimed on Boxing Day by the frost and will finally be run tomorrow. Regular readers of this column were advised before Christmas to take the even money available with Paddy Power about KAUTO STAR landing the contest for a record breaking fifth time and, like the frost, that price has long gone.

Paul Nicholls’ star is currently trading at around 4/6 and may get even shorter if the heavens open. I certainly wouldn’t rule out him touching 1/2 and that may well be the time to reach for the lay button on Betdaq as he is no certainty. The Nightingale was reasonable each-way value earlier in the week at around 20/1 but does not appeal now that his odds have halved.

Therefore, there may be better value in looking at some of the other races on tomorrow’s bumper nine race card and the Paul Nicholls team can get the day off to a flyer with BRAMPOUR in the opener. He is reportedly the stable’s best juvenile hurdler and judging by his French form, the ground should hold no fears.

The Christmas Hurdle is a muddling six runner affair and it is very hard to separate the top three in the market. Last year’s Champion Hurdle winner Binocular looks sure to be sent off favourite, but I’m not sure the small field and muddling pace will play to his strengths. I’d far rather be a layer than a backer on Betdaq and would probably look to take him on with STARLUCK who will travel supremely well and should trade as favourite approaching the last flight.

The declarations for the Lanzarote Hurdle aren’t made until later this morning, but I’ll be keeping a close eye out to see whether Nick Williams runs JAMES DE VASSY. He didn’t seem to stay three miles on his reappearance and the drop in trip is just what he needs.

However, one horse who looks sure to run tomorrow is Emma Lavelle’s COURT IN MOTION who can land the Grade Two Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick before going on to run in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival. If he impresses tomorrow, the 14/1 freely available about him for that race will disappear fast.

While on the subject of Cheltenham, if you haven’t yet made plans for the opening day of the Festival, then ‘Cheltenham in the City’ sees Green’s Restaurant and Ladbrokes joining forces to help raise money for the Raising the Stakes appeal at Great Ormond Street with a gourmet lunch and afternoon of racing action.

Chaired by Richard Glynn, Chief Executive of Ladbrokes Plc, a committee of high level executives from the gaming community are helping to galvanise support for Raising the Stakes with an initial aim of raising £500,000 to fund a four bedded high dependency bay in Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Cardiac Critical Care Unit. Money raised on the day will go towards this target, so if you are interested in taking a table at a truly worthwhile event, you can contact Rebecca Hannawin by calling 020 7239 3164 or you can email her at