KEMPTON’S punters were KO’d by a diabolical set of results on Boxing Day.
For starters, even Nostradamus couldn’t have seen Buveur D’Air being turned over by his stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle.
The champ looked unbeatable when running Irish ace Samcro out of town at Newcastle, but got warmer than a well-baked mince pie in the prelims here and was nutted by the mare after trading at 1-18 after the last.
La Bague Au Roi landed another blow for Girl Power when she saw the boys off in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novice Chase.
Warren Greatrex’s mare makes `Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher look like a soft touch and was too streetwise for Paul Nicholls’ king-sized Topofthegame.
The runner-up is just about the tallest horse in training – imagine Peter Crouch on stilts – and is definitely the apple of Nicholls’ well-honed eye.
He’s heading to Ascot in February before a tilt at Cheltenham’s RSA Chase and the Ditcheat maestro reckons this could be a Gold Cup winner in the making.
Clan Des Obeaux (22-1 to 12-1) is full steam ahead for that race after landing a long-priced tickle in the King George.
Let’s be honest, Pinocchio’s hooter would grow a couple of yards if we tried to pretend this was a vintage renewal of the great race.
Bristol De Mai jumped as if he was wearing clogs, Waiting Patiently didn’t get further than halfway and Native River did well to finish third after being eyeballs out from the kick-off.
Might Bite started an uneasy jolly and is becoming harder to work out than a Countdown conundrum. As things stand he’s a million to figure in the Gold Cup and Nicky Henderson has a mammoth job on his hands trying to patch the old champ up.
Hendo had a funny old week but can always rely on Altior (1-6 to 1-8), who was well-backed by the heavy hitters when running home a Heathrow runway clear in the Desert Orchid Chase on Thursday.
With Footpad being chinned by an OAP in Ireland, only an act of parliament can get Altior beat in the Champion Chase and I’m not sure Theresa May’s got time for that with Monsieur Juncker giving her GBH of the ear’oles.
A pea-souper stopped us seeing exactly how Dynamite Dollars managed to beat top gun Kalashnikov in the 2m novice chase, but judging by Amy Murphy’s reaction I reckon the runner-up needs a stiffer test of stamina.
Trackman’s Saturday Selection
WENYERREADYFREDDIE (3.35 Newbury) has improved massively since tackling fences and might be a bit better than this grade.
The gelding looks like a superstar and wouldn’t be the first to run moderately here before doing a Zebedee and bouncing back in the spring.
Colin Tizzard makes The Wurzels sound like a bunch of city slickers, but he’s a proper trainer and landed an old-fashioned punt with Elegant Escape (5-1 to 3-1) in the Welsh National.
This fella races with his chin and chest out, never shirks a challenge and would have a big each-way shout if the ground came up testing for the Gold Cup.
Nicky Henderson sends a crack squad to Newbury today and should be on the mark with red-hot novice chaser WENYERREADYFREDDIE (3.35).
This big chestnut jumped badly left at Ascot last time, will be happier going this way round and has the class to defy top weight.