Captain to take command at Kempton and Cheltenham

If there’s one horse in the King George field that’s open to any amount of improvement then it’s Captain Chris. Yet he’s already a two time Grade 1 winner following victories in the Arkle at Cheltenham and the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown so there’s no doubting his class. Of course Long Run and Kauto Star have the better form but there are doubts about them both; the former’s jumping and the latter is not getting any younger.

Captain Chris could well improve significantly for a step up in trip and gives every indication he’ll do so. Take a look at the video of the Arkle and his run’s at Punchestown and at Exeter and it’s quite taking how he powers after the second last. He has to be ridden but always responds well. He really runs on well at Exeter as his stamina kicks in only to over jump the last and throw Richard Johnson off.

At Kempton on Monday the conditions appear to be coming just right for the Captain for whom good ground is ideal. There is hardly any rain forecast and the chase course at the time of writing (Christmas Eve afternoon) is good to soft (good in places). As past winners of the King George (4x of course with Kauto) the top two in the betting have strong course form. But Captain Chris is also a winner at Kempton having scored his first chase win in the Pendil over 2 and a half miles last season.

I make it very much a race where the ‘big three’ are some way ahead of their rivals with support for the ‘big two’ on the day the Captain will surely be value.

In the Gold Cup it’s interesting that bookies have him shorter than the Queen Mother, where he’s around a 10/1 shot, as he has a far better chance in the former and much better than the odds of 16/1 suggest. On the betting front this week he’s been reasonably strong in the market replacing Master Minded as the clear third favourite behind the big two.

I’m putting him up as a race day tip for Boxing Day and for the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup 2012. Race day tips are advised at 1pt each way at SP whilst ante-post Cheltenham Festival tips are advised at price at the time of selection. 16/1 is widely available but let’s take the 14/1 with Ladbrokes who are offering non-runner no bet. So if I’m very wrong and Captain Chris doesn’t stay the trip on Monday and ends up in the Queen Mother or if of course he gets injured we get our money back.

1pt ew Captain Chris at SP for the King George at Kempton
1pt ew Captain Chris at 14/1 with Ladbrokes for the Cheltenham Gold Cup NR-NB