Evan Williams trained chaser bids to become the first since Bonanza Boy in the 80s to win the race back-to-back

The belated return of the brilliant Arkle winner Shishkin is todays Kempton highlight as Nicky Henderson’s unbeaten chaser goes head-to-head with the recent Tingle Creek winner Greanateen under Bryony Frost who is in the plate again this afternoon.

With last season’s beaten favourite Chacun Pour Soi in action at Leopardstown this afternoon we will likely see a shake up in the market for the Champion Chase by the end of the day.

The big betting race of the day is the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and, with former Gold Cup and 2016 Welsh National winner Native River heading the weights, a number of the field are out of the handicap. 

Evan Williams landed this valuable and prestigious prize with Secret Reprieve (2.50) 12 months ago and he can follow up from a 6lbs raider The selection has headed the antepost market for the race since the entries were made in the autumnand he turned the race into something of a procession last year. Note he heads a strong home challenge in the race with Welsh trained runners trying to keep the prize on home soil for a third successive year following the win of Potters Corner in 2019. 

I appreciate he has no great record fresh, and it was not the plan to go for the race without a prep run, but the dry autumn scuppered those plans. He will carry just 10st this afternoon, will enjoy underfoot conditions and can become the first back-to-back winner of the race since Martin Pipe’s Bonanza Boy in 1988/89. The 5s with William Hill 5 places looks a fair ech way price.

Irish raider the Big Dog is considered the biggest danger although the shortlist of potential dangers is long!

Later in the card I hope to see Imperial Alcazar (3.25) go one better than when second to the excellent mare Silver Forever in a match on his chase debut at Newbury on ground faster than ideal. The selection- 113/8 with Boylesports – jumped well for a novice and the form has been franked by the winner who followed up in a listed contest back at the Berkshire track. 

Midnight River did not look a natural over fences on her first start over the larger obstacles and at Wetherby I hope to see Pay The Piper (1.00) follow up his Newcastle win last time out stepped back up in trip. 

The selection ran a cracker when just touched off by Fiddlerontheroof in the Colin Parker at Carlisle back in October and that form has been franked by the winner who ran such a terrific race when runner up in the Ladbrokes Trophy. There was 7/4 about on Boxing Day but he is into Evens on raceday morning.

In the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown I do feel that the performance of Largy Debut (1.45) has been overlooked because it is perceived that the 1/14 market leader Kilcruit was below par and that is likely to be the case.

That said he was beaten 10L by the Henry De Bromhead runner and it is possible that the selection is himself out of the top drawer. Henry De Bromhead had a largely frustrating Boxing Day and it is fair to say that stable jockey Rachel Blackmore has had better days in the saddle. The selection is 9/4 with William Hill.

I thought My Mate Mozzie idled after a mistake at the last,when he was caught close home by Statuaire in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse last time, and that may have flattered Mighty Potter who finished fast and late into third on ground faster than ideal. He will appreciate the forecast ground today,but a bigger danger may come from the mare Grangee.

The big betting race in Ireland is the Paddy Power Chase and I have backed The Bosses Oscar (2.55) each way. The step back up to three miles will suit Gordon Elliot’s novice who is a maiden over fences but has run three good races in defeat over the larger obstacles.

The selection is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time this afternoon, Davy Russell keeps the ride, and he is 6lbs lower in the weights over fences than he is over timber. The 7s with Boylesports 6 places looks fair.

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