Henderson pair Might Bite and Whisper among eight for King George
Might Bite will face seven rivals as he bids to give his trainer Nicky Henderson a third success in the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Victory would see Might Bite improve his 2017 record to five wins from as many outings and would also allow him to make amends for his dramatic, final-fence fall when ten lengths clear in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase 12 months ago.
Chief among his rivals is Bristol De Mai, who heads to Kempton having turned Haydock's Betfair Chase into a procession to give him a shot at the Jockey Club's £1 million bonus for adding the King George and the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Last year's winner Thistlecrack will need to be in much better form than when disappointing over hurdles at Newbury last time, while his stablemate Fox Norton is stepping up to three miles for the first time.
Henderson has another chance with Whisper, while Lizzie Kelly will be hoping for another good performance from Tea For Two. Double Shuffle and Traffic Fluide, who will wear a visor for the first time, complete the field.
In the Unibet Christmas Hurdle, Buveur D'Air looks to have an outstanding chance of making it eight wins in a row, with only four rivals taking him on, most notably The New One, who has finished second in this race three times.
Clerk of the course Barney Clifford made no change to the going description on Saturday, with the course good to soft, soft in places.
Forecasts vary for the coming days, with some predicting as much as 20mm of rain while others suggest only 5mm.
"It's dried a bit today but I left the ground the same," said Clifford on Saturday afternoon. "The course looks in terrific condition.
"For the next couple of days, it depends on what forecast you look at. Some suggest 5mm and some suggest more but the latest from the Met Office indicates rain on Christmas night into Boxing Day, then a nice Boxing Day itself, before more rain in the night and into the 27th. We'll just have to wait and see."
Clifford is expecting temperatures of around 7C on Boxing Day, with the following day set to be slightly cooler. Ticket sales continue to please, and he advised those planning on heading to the races on the day to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
"Last year was a very good year and we're right on target with where we were then," he said. "The Premier enclosure will sell out on Boxing Day morning but tickets will still be on sale tomorrow, so anyone who wants to come to Kempton should make sure they pick up the phone."
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