Kempton Winter Festival Day 1

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SAPHIR DE RHUE should be an odds on shot in my opinion. He ran up an impressive hat-trick in handicaps, the final one of those being a victory over Whisper, conceding 6lbs. On his chase debut he unseated Sam Twiston-Davies, however he put that right when winning impressively at Exeter. Pual Nicholls has already came out and said that he feels this horse is his Gold Cup hope for 2016. If the horse is as good as Nicholls says and hopes then he should be winning this race.

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Back Saphir De Rhue at 2.10 – General
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Faugheen will twin this race, however at the odds and with him filling one of the two places available, I have to take on Irving. I think this horse is massively over-rated. At the Festival in March he came in with a big reputation but could only finish 9 of 18 when going off favourite in The Supreme. His season reappearance saw him fall, the winner of that race was Purple Bay. Many have said that Irving would have won if he’d stayed on his feet, however I don’t agree with that. His fall was that of a tired horse and I think that Purple Bay would have gone past him at the last. I wouldn’t be surprised if Purple Bay finished ahead of him again.

When we add in Sign of a Victory, who was very impressive on his reappearance and could be anything, we have a two horse that will challenge Irving for that final place. To me it looks to be the perfect opportunity for a place lay.

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Lay Irving To Be Placed at 2.1x – Betfair
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We could spend the next six months going round-and-round in circles discussing the form of Silvinaco Conti, Dynaste, Cue Card and Menorah. It would be no surprise if one of them won. We then have Al Ferof who is a bit of an unknown quantity over three miles if we believe that the reason he was ‘below par’ last season was due to ulcers. If he has improved due to getting over them, then he’ll be right up there. The form of his Ascot victory has been franked and that looks to be a career best from him.

Personally though I believe that Champagne Fever has the potentially to be a top quality staying chaser. At the 4.00 (3/1) he was all week I couldn’t advise backing him. However at the time of writing he is 6.50 (11/2), which is big enough for me to get involved. I have him as my likely Gold Cup winner, and to cement that belief he’ll have to run well in this.

I think we may see the race pan out for him, we should see Champagne Fever and Cue Card out in front setting a good gallop. If he gets settled and into a rhythm, then I think he’ll be able to out battle Cue Card. I think we’ll see those two horses get an ‘easy’ lead due to the other jockeys having doubts over their abilities to stay, which could leave it on a plate for Champagne Fever. It’s a lot of ifs and buts, however for a horse that I believe can go on and win The Gold Cup, I’m happy to take the risk.

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Back Champagne Fever at 6.50 – William Hill
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