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Kempton hosts one of the season’s biggest Champion Hurdle trials in the form of the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.  The list of previous winners is littered with greats who went on to win at Cheltenham, including Binocluar, Kribensis, Dawn Run and Lanzarote.  This year promises to be a great renewal with two of the favourites for the Champion Hurdle locking horns here in a tasty Christmas preview.  I’ve analysed the trends surrounding this race and come up with my selection.

 

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Trends – 

9 out of the last 10 winners were aged between 5 and 7 years-old

9 out of the last 10 winners had run at the Cheltenham festival in the same calendar year

8 out of the last 10 winners had placed in their previous runs

8 out of the last 10 winners had previously won a graded race 

7 out of the last 10 winners were sent off shorter than 3/1

7 out of the last 10 winners were trained by Nicky Henderson or Noel Meade

7 out of the last 10 winners were officially rated higher than 151

5 out of the last 10 winners had won over course and distance previously.

 

THE NEW ONE (11/10 bet365) comes here fresh from demolishing another Champion Hurdle hope, Zarkandar; at the International meeting at Cheltenham.  The horse is a versatile individual who’s shown the necessary class to win at 1m6f up to 2m5f and has encountered the testing ground that is probable come Boxing Day.  The horse nearly meets every trend I have listed and was mightily impressive when winning over C&D beating previous Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby by 10 lengths here in October. 

The biggest rival to the Nigel-Twiston stable star will be My Tent Or Yours (11/10 Coral) and the clash promises to be one of epic proportions.  The Nicky Henderson charge comes here after a comfortable victory in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle where he had Grumeti well beat.  This horse also meets the majority of the trends and represents the same Trainer/Jockey/Owner combination that has won the last three renewals of this contest.  My Tent Or Yours is a serious danger to the selection and has a very good chance to make it four wins from four for connections.

Aside from the top two in the market, Grumeti (16/1 Betfred) is a Grade 1 winner in his own right and deserves respect.  Despite this, he was 5 lengths behind My Tent Or Yours last time out and never really looked like threatening the winner.  The horse meets a fair few of the trends as he is the right age, has won over C&D etc, so cannot be completely ruled out and if any horse is going to trouble the front two in the market it will be Alan King’s representative.  

Sametegal (20/1 bet365) comes here from finishing an impressive second in the Greatwood hurdle at Cheltenham.  The horse has some impressive form but fails to meet the majority of the trends and has a preference for good ground.

The field is completed by Chapel House (500/1 Betfred) and Duke of Navan (33/1 Coral).  The former comes here with relatively no chance after being pulled up in his last five races.  The latter is another faced with a difficult task as, despite a few impressive wins at Kelso, he was comfortably beaten by My Tent Or Yours last time out and fails to meet a lot of the trends.

For me, the trends clearly point to the two at the head of the market.  Both are Grade 1 winners who had runs at least year’s Cheltenham Festival and both will be looking to use this race as a stepping stone towards the Champion Hurdle in March.  I do like My Tent Or Yours but I feel that there are definitely some chinks in his armour, including having only run once on heavy ground when beaten by Chatterbox at Newbury.  In addition, his lack of course experience coupled with a previous defeat to The New One in an Aintree bumper are other negative which further justify my preference for THE NEW ONE.  Nigel Twiston-Davies has a serious horse in his care here and the way he has destroyed two true Grade 1 performers in Rock On Ruby and Zarkandar has been devastatingly impressive especially when winning over course and distance on his first start of the season.  The New One meets the trends; has strong form at the course, over the distance and on a variety of grounds, and continues to look like a champion in the making. 

 

Selection – 

THE NEW ONE (11/10 bet365)

 

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