Predictions for the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase

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Kauto Star Novices’ Chase

With the festive period approaching once again, attention is turned in Kempton’s direction, with the National Hunt races in full flow. As well as the King George there are other big Boxing Day Group One races including the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. Last year, the absence of fans due to the coronavirus pandemic meant the race was ran behind closed doors, but you only need to look at the flat racing season when spectators returned to the tracks to see the jump up in quality as well as the amount of times horses would upset those betting on racing.

Current champion Shan Blue is expected to return, with plenty of competition out to take the top prize over the fiercely competitive three miles in Shepperton. With that in mind, we thought we would run through some predictions for the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and preview who we think has a chance of going the distance come Boxing Day

Shan Blue needs to bounce back

The Kauto Star always brings pressure, but current champion Shan Blue will need to overcome that to retain the title following a difficult year. The Dan Skelton-trained horse looked to add another win to his list of accolades with a marauding performance at Wetherby, but suffered a fall three fences from the end, capitulating and suffering a massive setback. 

There is every possibility this could affect the seven-year-old in the long run, but based on how he performed at Kempton last year, winning a third successive race and living up to expectations as a favourite — whilst seeing off stiff competition in Golan Fortune and The Big Breakaway.

Bravemansgame can upset a few 

The transition to Group One isn’t always routine, but Boxing Day will see Bravemansgame return to the cream of the crop following wins in his first two National Hunt starts, seeing off the likes of Itchy Feet, The Big Breakaway and Fusil Raffles. The six-year-old is ready to return to Kempton according to his co-owner John Dance, who said: “All of our horses won last time out and top of the tree is Bravemansgame. He’s very exciting.

Bravemansgame

“The horses don’t feel the pressure but it certainly transfers to the owners. When they are hyped up, it can be quite stressful with a lot of pressure but there’s nothing you can do about it.

“It’s part and parcel of having a nice horse and it’s better to have the pressure with a good one.”

Another upset on the cards?

You only need to look at the flat racing season to see that a surprise victory could be lying unexpectedly around the corner. Who would have predicted Torquato Tasso would win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at 80/1 or even Bielsa taking the Ayr Gold Cup? It would be unwise to completely write off the outsiders heading into Kempton this year. 

As mentioned before, the return of supporters gives that added element of surprise to the big races, especially over the festive period, and after racing behind closed doors, the jockeys will want their moment to bask in the glory of a full crowd this year. It will certainly be an entertaining prospect.