Kempton Park’s two-day meeting produced the best racing over the festive period. More than one million people tuned into ITV Racing to watch the King George VI Chase this year, and they would not have been disappointed by what they saw on their screens.
It was a race full of drama, with Bristol De Mai falling and bringing down the fancied runner Waiting Patiently.
It was a great win by the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux and an impressive 10th winner for Paul in the historic race, which, frankly, speaks volumes about what Paul has achieved — not only as a trainer but as an ambassador for the National Hunt game.
The winning horse was ridden by the “new kid on the block” Harry Cobden, 20. He has been thrown into the deep end this season, after Paul made him the number one jockey at Ditcheat over the summer. Harry has rewarded the former champion trainer many times already with some well-judged rides and big wins for the yard.
‘Feet like a boxer’
Altior has won 16 races on the trot now and his win in the Grade Two Unibet Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton was one of his easiest so far. I am stunned by this horse — he is so laid back and has feet like a boxer. He is the best horse around and just a joy to watch.
Chepstow was heaving for Welsh National day, won by the Colin Tizzard-trained Elegant Escape. It is their biggest race meeting and, as usual, it didn’t disappoint.
The Welsh National is a true test of a horse’s courage and stamina. It is a race run at a strong, sound gallop from start to finish and on soft ground. The race has a history of producing Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning horses.
The racing over Christmas produced some wonderful moments of celebrating; Warren Greatrex was seen on Twitter dancing and partying the night away after his Grade One victory with La Bague Au Roi. She is a fabulous horse for Warren and owners Julien Turner and Andrew Merriam.
Other horses for the notebook include Aramon, who won a Grade One at Leopardstown, Ask For Glory, who won the bumper at Chepstow and our own Vinndication, who won at Ascot — making it six-from-six when winning the Grade Two Noel Novices’ Chase.
I think we can reflect on a great Christmas period for racing, with excellent coverage by the ITV Racing team — jump racing needs as much good PR as possible at the moment, and the light shone bright for the sport during this year’s festivities.
Ref Horse & Hound; 3 January 2019