Kauto Star Novices’ Chase betting tips: Santini a strong fancy at Kempton

Kauto Star Novices’ Chase betting tips from Horsebetting.com say Santini is a worthy favourite for more Grade 1 success in the 3m event at Kempton on Boxing Day. Bags Groove is a great jumper, so is feared most for in-form Harry Fry ahead of Topofthegame. La Bague Au Roi, meanwhile, is one tough mare and her sex allowance makes her a solid each-way alternative instead of The Worlds End. Read all about this key staying test for novices over Christmas in our Kauto Star Novices’ Chase betting tips preview below.

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Odds
7/4
Selection
Santini
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Odds
5/1
Danger
Bags Groove
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Odds
7/1
E/W
La Bague Au Roi
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Santini the clear pick in Kauto Star

Nicky Henderson has won the 3m Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase a record five times. He holds leading claims of enhancing that to six at Kempton on Boxing Day (13:55) courtesy of top prospect Santini. The six-year-old son of Milan made an impressive bow over the larger obstacles last time out and is straight back into elite company.

Santini has always struck observers as a chasing type and, after winning a point-to-point unchallenged, had just four hurdles outings last season. Seven Barrows handler Henderson has clearly minded him with this sphere the ultimate aim. After comfortably beating stable companion Chef Des Obeaux on his debut under rules at Newbury, Santini landed a Grade 2 on Festival Trials Day back in January.

Although then third to Kilbricken Storm in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, he next stayed on well and asserted close home to win an Aintree Grade 1. Anything Santini achieved over hurdles was always a bonus and there was plenty to like about him when connections switched him to fences on his return to action in a Grade 2 at Newbury.

Impressive chase debut

He did make a slight mistake at the 11th fence, but regular jockey Nico De Boinville didn’t panic and produced Santini to challenge at the last. Bold jumper Rocky’s Treasure, who had won all three of his previous chase starts in facile fashion, was simply outstayed by a strong run past him to the line and beaten four lengths.

It was an authoritative display from Santini, reversing the Albert Bartlett form on Kilbricken Storm – who trailed in an out-of-sight sixth after some high-profile errors. As Rocky’s Treasure has since come out and bolted up in another Grade 2 at Doncaster, the form has a solid look to it.

Santini is only fifth on adjusted ratings when considering a sex allowance for the mare in opposition, but official figures clearly underestimate him. With just one chase start under his belt, he retains tons of scope for improvement and the market has him a clear favourite to go in again.

As he’s already a strong fancy for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Santini looks well up to winning this ahead of some more exposed sorts. We had no hesitation in making him our main selection in these 2018 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase betting tips.

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Bags Groove feared most

This is more competitive than the betting suggests, as other highly-regarded chasing prospects with the potential to go right to the top also line-up. Bags Groove is relatively exposed to Santini, but does jump well, is joint-top on ratings and represents in-form Dorset trainer Harry Fry. He is thus feared most ahead of Topofthegame, who remains a maiden over fences.

Bags Groove is three out of four in this sphere, having just lacked the foot to beat Verni when touched off close home over 2m on his try at Uttoxeter back in May. This seven-year-old son of Oscar is by a Roselier mare, so has a stamina laden pedigree that suggests stepping up to this distance should be no problem.

When up in trip to 2m 5f at Ffos Las after a summer break, Bags Groove gave weight away and a two-length beating to Jester Jet. He then had his sights raised considerably and made all in a Grade 2 around Wincanton. Some of the best subsequent staying chasers have won that race, including Grand National heroes Bindaree and Comply Or Die, See More Business and Silviniaco Conti.

Rising Stars success

Although Bags Groove belted the last, he couldn’t be stopped and was thus value for more than the nine-length winning margin as a result. He had the three rivals who completed strung out like washing in-behind and a repeat of that performance should see him push Santini close.

Fry dropped Bags Groove in class, but up in trip to warm him up for this with a prep run around Huntingdon earlier this month. He again jumped well and made all over an extended 2m 7f, with Noel Fehily able to ease him down towards the finish for another cosy nine lengths success.

As he was giving weight all-round for his graded victory, this was another taking display from Bags Groove and there still looks to be plenty more to come from him. With handler Fry on an almost 30 per cent strike rate with his horses over the last fortnight at the time of writing, a bold bid looks assured. Bags Groove looks the one who can give Santini most to think about and that’s why he is mentioned among our Kauto Star Novices’ Chase betting tips.

La Bague Au Roi an each-way alternative

If adjusting official figures to factor in the 7lb sex allowance, then La Bague Au Roi comes out best in the seven-runner field. This gutsy, versatile and likeable mare is two from two over fences, trained by Warren Greatrex and gets on particularly well with champion jockey Richard Johnson, who is five from six on her.

La Bague Au Roi looks the best each-way bet ahead of The Worlds End – quickly turned out after winning at The International meeting at Cheltenham – as a result. This seven-year-old daughter of Doctor Dino is a course hurdles winner over this trip against her own sex when giving 4lb and a half-a-length beating to Jer’s Girl last November.

She went on to complete her hat-trick after back-to-back Listed successes in the Grade 2 Warfield Hurdle at Ascot when soon clear and a facile 16-length winner. Although then paying for a big blunder at the last in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and a well-beaten seventh in the Champion Stayers at Punchestown, La Bague Au Roi bounced back to form when switching to fences.

Not afraid of taking on geldings

A winning reappearance at Newbury over an extended 2m 6f saw her take to chases like a duck to water, staying on strongly to hold Lostintranslation by 1 1/2 lengths. Thomas Campbell, who was eight lengths behind La Bague Au Roi, is a good form marker as he was subsequently second to Bags Groove.

Like that one, La Bague Au Roi also recorded a Grade 2 victory last time out when making all to land the Berkshire Novices’ Chase during the Winter Carnival. She only had to be kept up to her work by Johnson in the closing stages to run out a seven-length winner.

This demands even more, but the form achieved by La Bague Au Roi is superior to that of Topofthegame and The Worlds End. As she continues to get weight from the geldings, she’s the obvious each-way bet among Kauto Star Novices’ Chase betting tips if either Santini and/or Bags Groove don’t live up to expectations.

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