The Ladbrokes Christmas Festival 2022 at Kempton Park promises to be another fantastic winter jumping event. Along with Cheltenham Christmas Festival 2022 races will be among the most important of the season and we go through everything you need to know in advance of this year’s meeting.
Check out details of the event, the biggest races, grab some ante-post tips, find out how to bet and where to watch and more besides. We also answer your top questions on Kempton’s biggest meeting of the year.
Every season, Kempton’s biggest meeting offers us two fantastic days of jumps racing. As always, the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival dates are the same with racing set for December 26th & December 27th. This time around, those dates fall on Monday and Tuesday although both days are UK bank holidays.
Boxing Day, December 26th, is Kempton’s biggest day of all and features the King George VI Chase. Outside of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, this is the most important steeplechase race of the entire season. The 27th is also known as Desert Orchid Chase Day. Each day race one of 6 starts at 12.45, with the final race scheduled for 3.40. There is almost £550,000 up for grabs on day one, £250,000 of which is in the King George with another £130,000 offered in the Christmas Hurdle. £100,000 is also given out in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Day two offers another quarter of a million, with the feature race being the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase with backup provided by the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at the same level.
The Ladbrokes Christmas Festival schedule is a fascinating one. All twelve races are important in their own way, though these are the very top events:
A Grade 1 race, the Kauto Star is not only named after one of the best but it attracts them too. Run over three miles, this race usually features the best staying novice chasers around with a view to getting to the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The young chasers have 18 fences to take around Kempton, with past renewals having been won by subsequent Gold Cup winners Long Run and Coneygree so it goes without saying that it’s one to watch with an eye on the future.
A very important seasonal event held at this meeting is the two-mile Christmas Hurdle. Alongside the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, this race forms part of the Triple Crown of Hurdling.
Naturally run at Grade 1 level, runners in the Christmas Hurdle are tasked with taking on eight flights although the emphasis will be on speed as long as the ground doesn’t get too soft. This is as good as it gets outside of the Cheltenham Festival, so it’s no surprise that top-level types such as Lanzarote, Kribensis, Intersky Falcon, Faugheen, Buveur D’Air and Epatante have won it over the years.
King George VI Chase
Run over the same three-mile steeplechase course as the earlier Kauto Star, the King George VI Chase is the best of all of the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival races. A Grade 1 worth £250,000, this is the top race for three-mile chasers outside of the Cheltenham Gold Cup with many horses taking in both races.
There are 18 fences to jump and some of the best in the business will be involved. Superstars Pendil, Wayward Lad, Desert Orchid, Kauto Star and Long Run were all multiple winners of the race.
Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase
While the Kauto Star and the King George are for the three-milers, day two is more about the speedy chasers. The Wayward Lad is a novices’ race run over two miles at Grade 2 level. There are twelve fences for the novices to take and this is seen as a key lead-up race to the Arkle at Cheltenham in March. Not all Wayward Lad participants make it to the top, however Sprinter Sacre, Altior and Edwardstone are three excellent examples of past winners.
Desert Orchid Chase
Run in the same conditions as the Wayward Lad but for more experienced chasers, the Desert Orchid is of course named after the ever-popular multiple King George winner.
It is set to be the feature race on day two worth £100,000, no doubt attracting the same types which will be aimed at the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Sprinter Sacre, Politologue, Altior, Nube Negra and Shishkin have all been aimed at both races in the past.
Ante-post betting on the King George VI Chase is open but there are a number of things to sort out before any of us know who will take part. Bravemansgame made an excellent reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase and heads the market, while Envoi Allen and L’Homme Presse challenge ahead of Galopin Des Champs and Hitman.
Though we love what Bravemansgame did at Wetherby and think he’ll be a real star, at a general 11/10 he is not a betting proposition. Envoi Allen is only a 4/1 chance also and it may be that he heads to Leopardstown instead, so we’d be taking an unnecessary risk on making him one of our Ladbrokes Christmas Festival tips.
L’Homme Presse is a very nice type and at a general 7/1 is tempting, but there may be ground issues there so that leave us with two good value types in the market. Those two are Bravemansgame’s stablemate Hitman (Paul Nicholls) and Willie Mullins’ Galopin Des Champs.
The former is as big as 10/1 generally which makes him tempting as an each-way play. Improving all the time, he was third in Grade 1 company as a novice, second to Greaneteen in the Tingle Creek over two miles and the second again over 2½ at Aintree. He returned this season with another solid runner-up performance in the Old Roan, only failing to give away weight all around by a head. The step up to three miles could now bring about further progression and that puts him close to the right level.
Galopin Des Champs is possibly only as big as 8/1 given his fall at Cheltenham. Sent off 5/6 favourite for the Turner Novices’ over 2½ miles, he was clear by a long way before tumbling at the last. He then won with authority at Fairyhouse in April.
Galopin Des Champs is the best horse in this race so it’s worth a small risk on his participation at the odds, though both tupped horses are about to turn seven so are at an ideal age with their better performances likely still ahead of them.
This is a great sporting event however if your focus is the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival betting, then remember the following:
If you prefer, simply follow our ante-post tips and keep them as your selections for the King George on Boxing Day. Whatever happens though, be sure to get the best possible prices going. This is one of the absolute fundamentals of betting.
There is a vast array of betting markets on offer for each and every race at Kempton Park at Christmas. The most popular on the big races are:
The Ladbrokes Christmas Festival is a traditional festive sporting event, taking centre stage on Boxing Day especially alongside the football. As such, there are no shortage of viewing options.
Terrestrial TV coverage comes from ITV, either on the main channel or on ITV4. The Opening Show previews the races, then the live coverage kicks off in the afternoon from the track.
You’ll need a subscription for Racing TV who have the rights to all races at Kempton Park. Their specialist coverage is available on every single race.
Top bookmakers offer live streaming. You may need to place a bet on a race to watch it, but full commentary and live odds are provided.
We hope to see some creative Ladbrokes Christmas Festival offers when the meeting gets closer. The most common offers out there on the market right now are:
Best Odds Guaranteed
The good old fashioned ‘BOG’ deal is becoming less frequent, but backers at this meeting should be safe enough. Take the odds on your horse and if it wins and the SP is bigger, then you’ll he paid out at the higher price.
Enhanced odds, or ‘bet boosts’, are straightforward and allow you to get a better price on your horse versus what is advertised in the market.
Your bookie may offer extra places for each-way bets automatically. However, you can opt in most cases to take smaller odds and extend the extra places yourself to 4, 5, 6 or even more.
Money Back Deals
Some bookies offer money back as a free bet if your horse fails for a certain reason, such as falling or being beaten by a particular runner.
As one of the most important meetings of the season, don’t lose count of the fact that many horses here will go on to do well at the Cheltenham Festival. In the past few years alone, this has been the case. In 2018, Topofthegame ran second in the Kauto Star before going on to win the RSA Novices’ at Cheltenham. Santini was just behind him on both occasions.
The same year, Altior won the Desert Orchid before impressively winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase and then in 2019/20, Epatante completed the Christmas Hurdle/Champion Hurdle double. Last year was even better for punters looking ahead to Cheltenham. Firstly, Mister Coffey ran second in the novices’ limited handicap chase and did the same thing when very well backed by each-way punters in the Kim Muir.
Edwardstone won both the Wayward Lad and the Arkle last season, while Marie’s Rock won a handicap hurdle on this card before winning the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival at a massive 18/1.
The top questions about Kempton’s Ladbrokes Christmas Festival answered.
Every year, the two-day meeting is staged on December 26th and December 27th.
There are several major races, but the King George VI Chase is undoubtedly the biggest of them all. The Christmas Hurdle and the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase are also Grade 1 events.
Live TV coverage is provided by both ITV Racing and Racing TV. Some top online bookmakers will also be offering live streaming of each race.
Kempton Park in Surrey. Though very busy all year with all-weather Flat racing, this is the traditional home of the King George VI Chase.
For the past 20 years Gary has been immersed in the world of sports writing and betting. His experience, particularly within horse racing, has led to him enjoying a successful career as a punter but also as an SEO specialist. Gary contributes written content for TVG (America’s largest wagering website and horse racing TV network), Mr Green Casino, CasinoEuro and many others. Having written for horse racing magazines, newspapers, and websites as well as having published one book on football betting, Gary has used his knowledge of sports to provide valuable betting tips to punters via apps, telephone and the web.