Grade One Christmas Hurdle Guide 2021

Kempton - December 26 2021
Kempton 14:30
5
Nico de Boinville

Epatante

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-0
OR: 153

The 2020 Champion Hurdle heroine returned to winning ways when finishing a dead heat 1st with Not So Sleepy in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last month on her first start of the season.

To the eye the form doesn’t look particularly strong, but she was coming in off back surgery and was slightly hampered in the running when looking for a gap through the middle of two runners.

The gap didn’t arrive, and she had to go around her rivals just before the 2nd last obstacle, before plugging on with Not So Sleepy down the straight for a dead heat first place.

Conditions weren’t in her favour as there was heavy snow and sleet, also it was the last race of the day so the ground would have been torn up by the other races.

She was very plucky that day and did stay on with Not So Sleepy. Vibes from the camp were that she would come on wonders for the run, and she is entitled to do so.

She was a disappointing 2nd in this last year, but was reported to have issues with her back which resulted in inadequate runs in races afterwards, which the yard looked to have rectified over the summer.

She is yet to finish out the top 3 in her last 8 runs, 7 of which have been at the highest level.

She is a classy horse who will take a lot of beating in this now she is race fit.

Her game dead heat winner in Fighting Fifth last time out sets the standard in the race.

One to beat with the usual 7lb mare’s allowance.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/04/23PUN19Gd/Y11-74
13/04/23AIN20GS11-34
14/03/23CHL20Sft11-58
28/01/23DON16.5Gd11-81
26/12/22KEM16Sft11-32
Kempton - December 26 2021
Kempton 14:30
2
Jonathan Burke

Not So Sleepy

J:
 
Jonathan Burke
T:
 
Hughie Morrison
Age: 9
Weight: 11-7
OR: 160

The Hughie Morrison stable star, Not So Sleepy put in a career best last time out finishing a dead heat first with Epatante in last months Fighting Fifth.

That was also his first run of the season so he is entitled to come on for the run. The only slight concern with him is that he doesn’t run two races the same, quite often he will win or run well, then run fairly disappointingly afterwards.

He also can be a bit of a monkey in races and can cause issues (Look back to the 2020 Fighting Fifth where he unseated and ran another horse out) but is clearly talented when he wants to be and will run through a brick wall for connections.

He is a very solid jumper, and should the conditions be on the testing side with ground or fast pace, we all know he will be running on well at the line and will be hard to pass.

Career best last time out in the Fighting Fifth, very game horse who will be running on all the way to the line.

However, he must give the favourite the 7lb mares allowance like the rest of the field.

Should be thereabouts in the finish.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
01/06/24EPS12GS9-74
19/04/24NBY16.5GS9-84
12/03/24CHL16.5Hy11-107
09/12/23SAN16Hy11-101
14/10/23NMK18Sft9-97
Kempton - December 26 2021
Kempton 14:30
4
A P Heskin

Tritonic

J:
 
A P Heskin
T:
 
Alan King
Age: 4
Weight: 11-7
OR: 147

The Alan King horse who promised so much as a juvenile last season winning the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle in fantastic style by just over 10 lengths, hasn’t exactly hit those heights this season, although he has seemed to get better with each run this term.

He put in a seasonal best last time out in a Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle at Ascot just over a week ago.

He beat a progressive horse by just over 2 lengths that day, after being smuggled into the race superbly by Adrian Heskin, he jumped with a lot more fluency and looked a lot sharper last time out beating some decent horses in behind.

However, he does look to lack the potential Grade 1 ability of the main two in the market who have been running at this level for a while now, Tritonic not winning at the highest level yet.

He is starting to find his rhythm again now though, and Alan King is one of the best dual-purpose trainers around at the moment, he will have him more than primed for this.

Back to winning ways in a Grade 3 at Ascot just over a week ago, does lack Grade 1 form to his name and must give Epatante 7lb mares allowance.

Could finish in the placings.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/06/24ASC20GF9-720
28/04/24STH16.5St9-34
06/04/24KEM16St/Slw9-135
15/12/23CHL20.5Sft11-95
23/11/23WCN15.5Sft11-101
Kempton - December 26 2021
Kempton 14:30
3
Jonjo O'Neill Jr

Soaring Glory

J:
 
Jonjo O'Neill Jr
T:
 
Jonjo O'Neill
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 149

Last year’s impressive Betfair Hurdle winner who looked a real Champion Hurdle contender for the UK this season after his super display in the Listed Handicap Hurdle at Ascot in October, winning the race by just over 2 lengths after an impressive round of jumping.

He was quite disappointing last time out in a 4 runner Listed contest at Newbury however, finishing last in the field of four, not jumping very well and lacked the speed to catch the others up the home straight.

His record in smaller fields isn’t great and he probably needs a bigger field as he is a horse that likes to come off the pace to win, the smaller field in this doesn’t look to suit him especially up against a few Graded horses at the head of the market.

This race might be slightly out of reach him, but he is a 6yo so more could come in the future. Smart on his day, but the smaller field doesn't look to suit him.

Again, must give Epatante a 7lb mares allowance which is a big ask in this company.

Hard to gauge what horse we will get so probably best watched.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
17/02/24ASC19.5GS11-016
27/12/23KEM16GS12-05
16/12/23DON16.5GS10-115
02/12/23DON16.5Gd12-02
13/11/23KEM21Gd11-45
Kempton - December 26 2021
Kempton 14:30
1
Stan Sheppard

Glory And Fortune

J:
 
Stan Sheppard
T:
 
Tom Lacey
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 140

An impressive 4 length winner of the Welsh Champion Hurdle in October, which was probably his best career performance to date, he looks to lack the Graded quality that some of these possess making other alternative options more appealing in this small field.

3 winners in 12 runs over Hurdles, yet to win any black type since his bumper debut win at Cheltenham back in 2019. Best watched in this with others more appealing.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
17/03/23CHL17Sft11-320
11/02/23NBY16.5Gd12-013
27/12/22KEM16Sft11-43
12/11/22CHL16Gd11-4UR
09/10/22FFO16Gd11-124

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing