"…We’ll have a clearer picture about who ranks where among my Unibet Champion Hurdle contenders….”
12:50 Novices’ Hurdle
Vegas Blue (Nico de Boinville)
She was very impressive in a bumper at Huntingdon last time and the plan has always been to come here, as her owners love having runners at Kempton. She’s ready for it, so we might as well start her off here, rather than anywhere else and her schooling has been very good. This does look to be a very tough race so she will need to continue improving, but she’s a very promising filly with a bright future.
Fred (Barry Geraghty)
I don’t think he really enjoyed going two and a half on soft ground at Ascot last time so the drop back in trip on better ground, will really suit him, as will the sharper track. I’ve been extremely pleased with his work and hopefully he can put up a bold show.
2:30 G1 Christmas Hurdle
Fusil Raffles (Nico de Boinville)
He desperately needed his first run of the season in the Unibet Elite Hurdle so in the circumstances I thought he put up a good performance to get the job done. He’s not a horse who shows you a great amount at home which is why he was so undercooked at Wincanton but what he’s shown at home more than suggests he’s a very capable person and he is already proven on the track. Put it this way, we’ll have a much clearer picture about who ranks where when it comes to the Seven Barrows Unibet Champion Hurdle contenders.
Epatante (Barry Geraghty)
This is a big step up but the Handicapper gave her a right smack for winning at Newbury so we’re sort of forced into coming here, although I wouldn’t have liked to have seen what happened had she ran at Ascot on Saturday having to give all that weight to Hughie Morrison’s filly, so I think we’re just as well off coming here anyway. We’ve always thought a great deal of her and she’ll go on any ground.
Verdana Blue (Jerry McGrath)
Last year it was unseasonably dry which meant she was able to take full advantage and beat Buveur D’air in this, but now it’s the other way round and we’ve had an unusually rain soaked winter so conditions certainly won’t be ideal for her but Hannah Day, who rides her every day and knows her inside out, is really pleased with her work and she seems in great form. Yes, the ground is a concern but she is very tough and if she handles it, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her put up a very bold show. We’ve got all sorts of ideas about what we might do on the flat and there are quite a few lucrative prizes abroad on fast ground so her new owners have plenty to look forward to with her.
3:40 Handicap Hurdle
Laskadine (Barry Geraghty)
She won first time out at Warwick but then massively disappointed at Haydock after that and nothing came to light so we put her away and she’s really turned a corner over the past three weeks or so. As you’d expect this is a very competitive race but she’s in good shape and will hopefully run a decent race. I’m not confident, however, by any means.
12:55 Mares’ Novice Hurdle
Daphne Du Clos (James Bowen)
She looked like she needed the run at Sandown last time as she travelled well but had a good blow two out so I’d expect much more improvement now. We’re putting on a tongue tie which might help her on the soft ground and she’s a mare we’ve always held in quite high regard.
Article by Trainer and Unibet Ambassador Nicky Henderson and used with kind permission by the Unibet Blog.
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