He looks like making up into a much better chaser than a hurdler, and I have liked him on both his starts over fences this season. He probably surprised us a bit when third at a big price at Fontwell, form that has worked out really well, and he progressed from that when winning for me at Carlisle last month. That race hasn’t worked out as well, but I liked him there, as he won handily enough, and I think he can still be competitive here off a 7lb higher mark. Hopefully, he has a winning chance.
We have decided to shoot for the stars with Double Shuffle, and I suppose stranger things have happened in racing than our horse winning, though to be fair class has come to the fore in this race in recent years.
One thing that is certainly in his favour is he loves it around here. He probably would have been unbeaten over course and distance had he not made such a bad mistake 3 out in the Betbright Chase here in February, when he was just touched off.
We have been happy enough with his two runs over shorter this season, and the horse that beat him at Ascot last time, Top Notch, would have probably been running in this race if the £1m-seeking Bristol De Mai wasn’t in the same ownership.
It is obvious how much he has to find on the book, but he comes here in good order, we know he loves it here and we hope that he is still improving at the age of seven. We want it to remain dry for him, as he is a better horse on better ground, and the most recent forecast is encouraging on that front.
If they do get a fair bit of rain then I can see Bristol De Mai dominating in soft to heavy conditions.
He will be able to dictate his own race in that ground and I can’t find any fault with his two wins this season.
He may not need testing conditions but it is a huge plus for him over the others. His Charlie Hall win reads very well but heavy ground seems to take him to another level.
I personally would have him as favourite over Might Bite if the rain does come, though I do have a lot of time for the market leader.
He had Whisper’s measure last season and I thought he was very good on his return at Sandown, with no signs of any problems, but I just don’t think he will be able to handle the Betfair Chase winner in deep ground, for all he is open to a lot of improvement. If Kempton avoid most of the rain, then it will be another matter.
If Nicky Henderson thinks Whisper has been harshly treated being raised to a mark of 169, I would tend to agree with him.
He ran a fantastic race in the Ladbrokes Trophy and is a horse on the up over fences, and I suppose the handicapper has tied their hands to a certain extent and made them come here. That is rarely a winning recipe but he is a seriously good horse.
Like most people it seems, I was disappointed by Thistlecrack’s return over hurdles. For the first three-quarters of the race it seemed like the old Thistlecrack, with the horse travelling and Tom struggling to keep a lid on him, but the way he petered out from the third last would have to worry you.
He has to make a lot of improvement in a relatively short space of time if he is to follow up his win in this race last season.
I don’t have much of an opinion about Fox Norton to be honest, but it is a fairly big ask for him to be winning a race of this nature on his first start at 3m in what could be pretty gruelling conditions. Not for me.
I clearly look up against it on all known form, but I think we have each-way claims at a massive price, especially on decent ground.
My 32Red King George 1-2-3
1.Bristol De Mai
3. Double Shuffle
He ran better than it looked at Sandown last time, where he only dropped away from 2 out after making the running, and his earlier second at Warwick was a good effort. He steps back up in trip here, and that could well suit this ex-pointer. Hopefully, his mark is fair on his handicap debut.
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