Barry Geraghty’s William Hill blog: Allaho to make up for lost time in King George

Barry Geraghty’s William Hill blog: Allaho to make up for lost time in King George

William Hill ambassador Barry Geraghty looks over the Boxing Day cards from Kempton, Aintree, Wetherby and Leopardstown and picks out his best bets on a cracking day of racing.

Kempton, Tuesday

French horse IL EST FRANCAIS (1:20pm) has a massive reputation and has been very impressive in everything he has done so far. Like Hermes Allen he was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles and he’s only been beaten once in eight starts over obstacles to date, which takes a very good horse to achieve. Hermes Allen put in a good performance at Newbury last time, his jumping warmed up as the race progressed and he won well at the finish. That was over 2m4f, but I think an easy 3 miles around Kempton will be ideal for him. I do like him, but I think Il Est Francais has the potential to be a bit special. Giovinco was second to Stay Away Fay last time, but I got the impression the winner was only doing as much as he had to do, so Giovinco’s proximity to him at the finish might be misleading.

We get the chance to see CONSTITUTION HILL for the first time this season in the Christmas Hurdle (1:55pm). It will be great to see him back and reports from Seven Barrows have been very good. He obviously won this race last year along with everything else he contested. Rubaud, who was a good winner of the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last time, looks his main danger. It’ll be a big step up for him though taking on a horse like Constitution Hill, and if all goes well for the favourite, he’ll clearly be very hard to beat.

There are only six set to take their chance in this year’s King George (2:30pm), but it’s a high-quality field. Frodon, a past winner of the race, is around the 50/1 mark which shows you the level of competition. Hewick was running well in the Gold Cup when he fell, so he’s entitled to line up too. Bravemansgame was a good winner 12 months ago, but I’m fearful of his prep this time around. If he hadn’t been to Haydock, then I think he would line up here as the one to beat, but he’s now had two tough races already this season, which isn’t an ideal prep. The reports on Shishkin have been good, despite him refusing to race in Ascot last time. That was put down to his freshness, as he can get a little bit fractious when he’s very fresh. He’s done a good bit of work since then and the Henderson team seem happy that he’s in a better place now. He’s definitely a player, as is The Real Whacker if you draw a line through his last run at Cheltenham. He won’t get it all his own way with ALLAHO in the field though. Allaho has obviously had an interrupted time of it in the last couple of seasons, but visually he looked really good throughout the race when winning on his reappearance in Clonmel last month. He did get tired at the finish, but he was entitled to with it being his first run in 18 months on heavy ground. He had beaten Al Boum Photo and Clan Des Obeaux on his previous start over 3 miles at Punchestown, so going right-handed isn’t an issue for him. I think he’s the one they all have to beat.

Aintree, Tuesday

William Hill sponsor the Grade 1 action at Aintree, the Formby Novices’ Hurdle (1:05pm), which was formerly known as the Tolworth. The form I like here is from the race JANGO BAIE won at Ascot in November, when beating Tellherthename by only a nose. Jango Baie ran very keen and did too much through that race, but rallied when he was challenged and just held on. That was a smart performance and Tellherthename has gone on to win since, underlining the form. Jango Baie is a horse with a lot more to come and he’s the one I like. Farren Glory won a Grade 1 over in Ireland, but he beat a horse that has been beaten three times on his only three starts over hurdles, so I’m not certain it was the strongest of races for the grade.

Leopardstown, Tuesday

I was really impressed with FACILE VEGA (2:20pm) on his chase debut at a time when a lot of Willie’s [Mullins] horses were needing the run. I thought his jumping improved massively through the race and there should be better to come now. He’s a horse that really excites me. While he faces three smart rivals, he’ll be very hard to beat. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sharjah run well on the better ground and perhaps fill the runner-up spot at big odds. If you were looking for a forecast, that might be the way I’d go.

Wetherby, Tuesday

INTO OVERDRIVE won the Rowland Meyrick (1:35pm) last season and is only three pounds higher this time around. Before that he had been second to L’Homme Presse at Newcastle, which is very strong form. He might be the one to side with in an open race where all of the six runners look to hold chances.

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