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Boxing Day Racing Preview: A racing afternoon without equal

It is the biggest single day of racing action in the UK and Ireland in the calendar year with no fewer than 11 meetings set to take place after the Christmas Day eating frenzy is complete.

Boxing Day is a day for sports fans to truly relish, with Grade 1 action aplenty on both sides of the Irish Sea - headlined by the King George at Kempton (2.30).

You can follow all the racing action via our live Sports Streaming Service and here we take a look ahead to some of the racing highlights on 26th December.

Nicholls going for more King George glory

Britain's champion trainer Paul Nicholls loves the Boxing Day showpiece at Kempton and will be targeting a record-extending 13th win in the King George on Monday.

He's got 15/8 Bravemansgame - winner over C&D on this card 12 months ago as a novice - and 9/2 Hitman in the mix alongside 2020 winner Frodon at 16/1.

When Bravemansgame won here last Christmas, Nicholls immediately let it be known this would be the long-range target for him. He won the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on his comeback and is sure to be fitter now. Given the Ditcheat handler's adeptness at targeting a race, he's got to be feared and stable jockey Harry Cobden sides with him.

The Venetia Williams-trained L'Homme Presse - a Cheltenham Festival winner in March and very good in Newcastle's Rehearsal Chase on his comeback - is 15/8 and a major contender too, while last month's Down Royal Champion Chase winner Envoi Allen is 7/1 and the lone Irish representative in the Boxing Day showpiece at Kempton.

Constitution Hill to strut his stuff

Such was the sheer ease with which Constitution Hill won the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on his comeback, Nicky Henderson's superstar-in-the-making is 1/6 for Christmas Hurdle (1.55) glory at Kempton.

Last season's Supreme Novices' winner was far too good for stablemate Epatante up at Gosforth Park and the mare is 6/1 second-favourite now.

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Last month's Greatwood Hurdle score I Like To Move It is 10/1 for Nigel Twiston-Davies, while Paul Nicholls' Elite Hurdle winner Knappers Hill is 10/1 and experienced Sceau Royal is 10/1 for Alan King having chased him home at Wincanton last time.

They all face a mammoth task if they are going to spoil the veneer of invincibility that surrounds Constitution Hill at this point. He's the most exciting jumps horse in training and will be expected to put these away in ready fashion.

McFabulous headlines Kauto Star field

Victory for Bravemansgame last year was the second for Nicholls in the Grade 1 novice chase on the Kempton card since it took on the name of one of his all-time greats and McFabulous is 11/10 to win the Kauto Star Novices' Chase (1.20) this time around.

There was mitigation for him being pulled up on seasonal comeback/chasing bow at Wincanton in November and he's won both starts since, accounting for Thyme Hill in a Grade 2 at Newbury last month after a really positive round of jumping.

This race looks tailor-made as a next step for him and his connections can certainly be confident of upholding form with Philip Hobbs' Thyme Hill, priced at 6/1 now.

The dangers may be closer to home, with fellow Nicholls inmate Gelino Bello at 10/3 and Dan Skelton's 11/4 chance Ballygrifincottage viable opposition.

Long Walk bonus at Kempton

There's a Grade 1 bonus at Kempton via the Long Walk Hurdle (12.45) which has been rescued after frosty weather claimed the Ascot meeting it was intended for.

Champ is 2/1 for Nicky Henderson, while Paisley Park is 3/1 for Emma Lavelle. They served up a vintage scrap at Newbury in their Grade 2 last month and a replication of that would be some start for the racegoers at Kempton.

Gary Moore is also seemingly set to send 9/2 Goshen here after his 2m3½f Ascot Grade 2 win in November. He'll be tackling three-miles for the first time.

Leopardstown begins four-day Festive feast

The other big meeting on Monday comes at Leopardstown as they get their four-day Christmas showpiece underway.

Their opening Grade 1 is the Brand New Racing Post App Novice Chase (2.20) and Gordon Elliott is set to play a strong hand with Mighty Potter and Three Stripe Life amongst his possible contenders.

Willie Mullins is sure to be amongst the winners at the Foxrock venue over Christmas too and the bumpers are often to be noted - Facile Vega debuted at this meeting last year.

Grade 1 action too from Limerick where Elliott's Gerri Colombe is putting his unbeaten record on the line in the Faugheen Novice Chase (2.40). He made a very impressive winning start over fences at Fairyhouse in November and is expected to take front rank amongst the novice chasers as the season goes on.

So much more to savour

It's not just the Grade 1 tracks that should be savoured on Boxing Day, with lots of exciting racing to enjoy elsewhere.

Further jumps cards will come from Down Royal, Fontwell, Huntingdon, Market Rasen, Newcastle, Wetherby and Wincanton, while the all-weather torch is carried by Wolverhampton on what is always a good card at Dunstall Park.

The first action comes from Down Royal at 11.40 and by the time the final race is let go at Wolverhampton at 5.20, the Boxing Day racing bonanza will have witnessed an incredible 77 races in a little over five-and-a-half-hours. It truly is a racing afternoon without equal.

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