1.5pt win Ch'tibello @10/1, 14:40 Kempton, Boxing Day

There’s no Vroum Vroum Mag but we’ve still got a strong field for the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle on Kempton’s Boxing Day card, run over two miles.

My Tent Or Yours somewhat fortunately won this in 2013 when The New One clattered the last, and both horses re-oppose three years older and – perhaps – with their best days behind them.

That’d be a dangerous conclusion to make though as My Tent Or Yours ran to something like his best when second to Annie Power in her record-breaking Champion Hurdle in March, and, Festival woes aside, The New One is confirmed as still a winning machine after a commanding win in the International Hurdle last month.

My Tent Or Yours was a decent second in that race and can claim the ground went against him, but he had already had a run and was receiving 8lbs from the winner so really had to win to give us any reason to believe The New One isn’t the better horse these days.

Rather than pick between them I’d prefer to write them both off as fully exposed; even if The New One isn’t past his best he’s often been beaten in Grade 1 company and the two of them look vulnerable to the younger generation.

Let’s quickly rule out Gray Wolf River, who at 1000/1 is only there because his shrewd trainer has anticipated a small field and a nice chance to scoop some prize money for simply completing the race.

That leaves last year’s Neptune second Yanworth for Alan King and Scottish Champion Hurdle winner CH’TIBELLO for the Skeltons.

Yanworth was a huge hype horse for the Festival last season but found Yorkhill too strong in the big two-mile-four novices’ race, but he did place second and hardly ran a bad race – quite the opposite in fact.

King reckoned he was going to improve for the better ground but from where I’m sitting he looks more at home with some cut and was winning his races in the style of a stayer.

For that reason, with the ground looking good at Kempton I think this race won’t play to his strengths as the flat track and two-miles will reduce the emphasis on stamina.

Owned by J P McManus, he was originally being targeted at the three-mile Stayers Hurdle at the Festival, but with Unowhatimeanharry emerging as a hot favourite for that race and no two-mile-four Grade 1 at Cheltenham in March to reroute to, he’s pitched into two-mile company to test his Champion Hurdle credentials.

It’s an experiment and as such you’ve got to doubt his value as a general 6/4 favourite, particularly in this company.

Fortunately we have the perfect horse to take him on with in Ch’tibello.

We backed him for the Scottish Champion Hurlde, a handicap, and he won well with a light weight – but the whole logic behind that bet was a brilliant run behind the Supreme Novices’ winner Altior at Ascot, where the two of them smashed the rest of the field by 20 lengths.

Altior won by just over a length that day – a winning distance that now equates to genuinely top-class form.

Whilst he was beaten into fifth on reappearance this season, Ch’tibello confirmed his status as a hurdler on the up when beating My Tent Or Yours and Melodic Rendezvous in the valuable Betfair Price Rush Hurdle at Haydock last time out.

That was run on heavy ground so, despite the Melodic Rendezvous form not looking that impressive, it has to be marked up as connections have always insisted he wants a sound surface.

His class got him home that day and he should improve plenty for Kempton’s forecast conditions.

Aged five and very much improving, he looks a steal at 10/1 to get his nose in front in such a small, exposed field.

1.5pt win Ch’tibello @10/1, 14:40 Kempton, Boxing Day

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