Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse racing tips and the latest news.
The Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day is the year-end target for La Bague Au Roi who heads the betting for the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on Saturday.
The ultra-consistent eight-year-old is priced at 9-4 (Paddy Power) to win the Grade 2 contest that carries prize money of £100,000 on her seasonal debut; her first start since finishing runner-up to Kalashnikov in a Grade 1 event at Aintree in April.
The Aintree defeat was the Warren Greatrex-trained mare’s sole loss in five beginners or novice chases last term, highlighted by Grade 1 victories at Kempton on Boxing Day and Leopardstown in February.
The one and a half length win at Kempton was delivered over the same course and distance as the three-mile King George VI Chase and Greatrex believes the valuable Christmastime contest is a realistic target for his charge who receives a mares’ weight allowance for Kempton’s showpiece race of the season.
“La Bague Au Roi is due to run at Weatherby in the Charlie Hall,” Greatrex said at Cheltenham last Saturday. “She seems very well.
“She has summered well and come back in looking really good. Her work’s been excellent, she has been to Henrietta Knights’ and schooled and jumped well at home. Dickie (Richard Johnson – jockey) has been down to ride her and says she feels great.
“We’re out of novice company and we are in big boys’ school now, but she seems as good as ever and fingers crossed.
“The Charlie Hall will tell us a lot. If that goes well it will be the King George I would say. That is the next one that I am looking at, but a lot will depend on a week today and we will go from there. She seems in good nick so I can’t wait to get her started.”
Meanwhile East Yorkshire trainer Phil Kirby has entered dual Wetherby winner Top Ville Ben (7-1) in the Charlie Hall Chase. The seven-year-old enjoyed a productive campaign last season, winning three times in novice company with two of his successes coming over three miles at Wetherby. He ended the season with a good third behind Lostintranslation in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April.
“The bet365 Charlie Hall Chase remains the plan for Top Ville Ben,” Kirby said. “It looks a competitive race, but we will see how he gets on.
“He deserves to take his chance in the race and it is all systems go for Wetherby.”
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.