Thanks to Will for working hard on Christmas Day for this great Boxing Day 2017 – Preview and Tips. Enjoy! For a regular dose of Will’s Wisdom join us for FREE.
Happy Christmas and enjoy your sport! JP
Hopefully your Christmas was good, filled with fun and family and food, but now the real joy of the Festive season begins. Today marks the beginning of a week full of the best jumping action many will see outside of the Spring, with two days of racing at Kempton and four at Leopardstown to get stuck into, along with such highlights like The Challow Hurdle before New Year’s Day brings in 2018 with quality action across the country. But let’s get stuck into today.
12.45 – 32Red Casino Novices’ Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+): A strong renewal as ever. If The Cap Fits was a fine fourth in the Aintree bumper, form that looks good now, and he hasn’t put a foot wrong otherwise, with his impressive defeat of Solomon Grey at Bangor – a next time out winner who also runs here – arguably the best hurdling form. That was his first time on soft ground and he should be OK here and take a decent amount of beating. He will need to be at the top of his game if he’s to get the better of Diese Des Bieffes, a ready winner of both hurdles starts to date at Fontwell and Taunton from the red hot yard of Nicky Henderson, a frequent winner of this race. He gets 3lbs from the pick and that should make for a close race.
Simply The Betts gets 8lbs from If The Cap Fits and 5lbs from Diese Des Bieffes, which bright him right into the equation, and his third to Lostintranslation was an excellent debut effort for all he was comprehensively outgunned that day.
Irish Prospect bumped into a very good horse in the shape of Kalashnikov at Doncaster and didn’t lose any shame in being brushed aside there, but he will need to step up significantly on that to be involved here. The rest would be likely to struggle on the basis of form
1.25 – 32Red.com Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap) (Class 3) (4yo+ 0-140): Hell’s Kitchen unseated early at Newbury but he made a very useful chasing debut when chasing home the useful River Wylde at Uttoxeter and he looked a better chaser than hurdler then. He’s got a fair mark on that basis and also has soft ground form, so should hold pretty strong claims despite the strong opposition of last time out winners Mistaker Whitaker, Reigning Supreme, and Touch Kick, who looks a strong each/way option.
Advice: 1 pt win Hell’s Kitchen (7/2 general)
1.55 – 32Red Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (In Memory Of Nigel Clark) (Grade 1): A competitive renewal and a decent betting heat with very little separating a number of these. Mia’s Storm was really impressive in the Bud Booth Mares’ Chase at Market Rasen and has to be respected here, but a decent turnout makes this a steep step in class and she’s likely to be hassled off the front end too. Any ore rain would also be a significant hinderance to her chances too, and at the time of writing – just before Midday on Christmas Eve – there is more yet to come.
Nearly every other contender in this race has form that ties in with Black Corton, who has racked up five straight wins before going down by 3/4 of a length in the John Francome Novices’ Chase. He was giving 3lbs there, so the two ought to be tightly matched once again. It is a slight worry that Black Corton has been on the go so long – he’s had six races since the summer and was making a quick reappearance at Newbury too – and taking Elegant Escape’s previous best form, when trashed 13 lengths by Ballyoptic, he didn’t run to the same form that he’d shown when beating Ballyoptic and West Approach at Cheltenham.
Fountains Escape was upsides three out in the John Francome at Newbury when he took a fall, but its unlikely we’d seen the best of him there and it’s not hard to be impressed by his fine chasing debut, when he put 11 lengths between him and Stowaway Magic between the last two fences at Southwell. A wide margin winner of the Gaskells Handicap Hurdle at Aintree last year, he had jumped well before coming down at Newbury and could have a lot more improvement left here than some others, so is perhaps worth chancing again around a track that should suit with rain no worry.
Ballyoptic deeply impressive chasing debut suggested he could be a better chaser than hurdler, but he appeared to be beaten fair and square when four lengths behind Black Corton at Cheltenham. He has had less chasing though, and if jumping better can get closer. West Approach ahs won two novice chases in good style but been disappointing on either side.
It’s impossible to tell whether Some Invitation would have won his small field novice chase on debut, but Very First Time has since come out and won twice since, the last time quite impressively, so he could go well.
Unibet Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) (2.30): Buveur D’Air is the most talented hurdler in Britain and in the opinion of this page, in training, and hopefully he should make it 2/2 without much fuss here. The New One can follow him home as a forecast option and that might be worth backing strongly whilst Old Guard, Chesterfield, and Mohaayed will struggle here.
King George (3.05) – See 32Red King George VI Chase Preview and Tips
3.40 – 32Red Download The App Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) (3yo+ 0-140): A very difficult race to end a quality card. Midnight Maestro ought to enjoy this step up in trip but must improve his jumping if he’s to take a race this competitive and because of that he is passed over. There’s potential for a lot of pace to be on here with Kildisart and Dashing Oscar having three front running wins between them. Of the two Kildisart looks to be the best handicapped by a good way based on his win in an Ascot novice hurdle, having run into the very smart Count Meribel, now rated 141, the time before.
Frontrunning also helped Connetable produced a much improved effort when he was a close second at Sandown over 2m7f and Take To Heart also won twice from the front before sulking when held up in rear, so it’s not a surprise to suggest that this will be strongly run.
Jaleo ran a pretty decent race in some exalted company on his return at Newbury when making decent ground from the back, and his one win last term came from last at Lingfield, when he did well to win considering the rough passage that he had through the race, especially after the last. He ought to have plenty of pace to run at here and is only 2lbs higher than his last winning mark here which doesn’t leave him too badly handicapper. Alex Ferguson’s 7lbs is always a help and if there is a pace burnout, then he could profit at 20/1.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Jaleo (20/1 general)
This meeting, one of the highlights of the year, was set to be run on a decent surface but a torrent of rain has apparently left the ground closer to heavy; One would be wise to punt with that in mind.
12.15 – Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle (4yo): A very exciting start to one of the highlights of the year as we see the reappearance of Debuchet, who’s seasonal reappearance and hurdling bow has been delayed following a minor wind operation that he had to undergo through the Autumn. With that in mind, he ought to improve from this outing, but he remains one of the most exciting prospects yet to jump a hurdle and he makes a great deal of appeal for a big run in either the Supreme or the Ballymore Hurdle. The form of the Champion Bumper has been franked again and again, with third Clamtakinforgan and fourth Next Destination now Grade 2 winners, and Debuchet managed to outgun those when only a four year old before ending his season in victory when carrying a penalty in a Listed bumper. He could go to the Ballymore and is worth backing as insurance, but if he can make it to Cheltenham fit and well he’s a leading Supreme contender. He will be given a good workout today by Antey, who knuckled down well to win the Prix Capitaine Gefflot at Les Sables-d’Olonne on his flat debut, before then finishing last of three in a conditions race on softer ground. Market support will tell a lot but expect him to go well and so should Manamite and Cask Mate, who dead heated for second at Cork last time out. Wide margin bumper winner Los Alamos, who disappointed under a penalty last time, is an interesting hurdling recruit, and outside of those Play The Game, Sidetracked, Leave Your Mark and Desire De Joie could also play a hand.
Ante-Post: 1 pt each/way Debuchet, 2017 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (20/1 Bet365), 1 pt each/way Debutchet, 2017 Ballymore Novies’ Hurdle (20/1 SkyBet)
12.45 Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle: A difficult and well contested maiden hurdle. Quick Grabhim didn’t quite live upto his bumper win last year, but he appeared to have improved for the switch to Willie Mullins when a good second on his debut behind Mind’s Eye, who had previously run into Samcro. A subsequent winner has emerged since and he should go well here although this is tougher. Paloma Blue was second in the Punchestown Champion Bumper, and lost little on his debut when one of a few to get trashed by Next Destination on his hurdling debut, before he was beaten just a head by Spades Are Trumps at Punchestown. That defeat came at 4/11 but the winner’s first run over hurdles was a decent effort behind Grade 1 second Early Doors and the third has since won by five lengths going away. If he runs to that level he ought to be seriously involved.
Impact Factor has run into two smart horse sin the shape of Poli Roi and Getabird so far, and ought to be involved, along with Canadrier, a 2m2f bumper winner who was third to Jett when last seen. First Figaro should be able to pay his way over hurdles, especially if the ground is decent. Watch out too for three time flat winner Tara River, who was second to a smart mare on his debut.
1.15 – Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (3yo): Unless Farclas is something out of the ordinary then this ought to be straightforward for Espoir D’Allen as he continues his journey to the Triumph. The turn of foot he showed to beat Mitchouka at Fairyhouse was very taking and he looks to be right up with the best juveniles that Ireland has to offer. It remains to be seen what happens in terms of the gallop, but the faster they go the better he should be in theory.
1.50 – Cardinal Capital Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 80-116): The Thurles maiden hurdle that Highandmighjty won was a weak contest, but few here have shown that much winning form and he’s been fairly treated by the handicapper on that basis, so isn’t the worst each/way show in the world at 9/1 right now. An outsider to consider might well be Sir Carno, a 4yo tried in cheekpieces for his handicap debut with Gordon Elliott. Shock Fairyhouse winner Golden Jewel has just gotten in here but he needed a 9lbs rise to do so which means he’s going to have to improve a good deal although he’s not found the strongest handicap hurdle in which to do so.
2.15 – Racing Post Novice Chase (Grade 1) (4yo+): Separating Footpad and Death Duty on ratings is difficult but the former definitely has more proven speed than the latter and the stronger form to his name over hurdles courtesy of his Champion Hurdle form. He made an exceptional chasing debut over fences at Navan when he smashed the decent yardstick Brelade by an easy 15 lengths in a showing so strong it has even had his trainer – a prodigious force in the Arkle of recent years – excited to see him again, and it’s highly likely there’s more in the locker.
He will need to be on his A-Game if he’s to prevail here, but he has all the makings of a star chaser and is a strong fancy to take this on his way to the Arkle.
Death Duty’s win in the Buck House Novice Chase shows he’s got a handy amount of speed – and it might not be a surprise that he didn’t show his best in the Albert Bartlett last year. However, he is going down two furlongs further in a small field race here and probably facing his most talented opponent since his defeat at Punchestown in the Spring.
Avenir D’Une Vie could front run to try and inject pace into the race, and he was given a decent chance to get off the mark last time which he did when beating the useful Saturnas. He could struggle upped significantly in class here.
Any Second Now has bumped into two high class chasers on his first two starts over fences and might enjoy this drop down in trip but he’s got the same issue once again. He should win races in time and Jett, whilst a useful chaser, might be flying too high here.
2.55 – ‘Bet Through The Racing Post App’ Handicap Chase (4yo+): Dysios is more exposed than good deal of these but his course record, especially in this race, entitles him to serious respect and he’s worth forgiving for having bombed last time. When prepared and ready for this race last year he finished a fine second to Lake Takapuna (who should be respected coming back to the same conditions that saw him take the race last year) with Ball D’Arc and Just Get Cracking behind, and the year before he actually won off a mark just 3lbs lower. His effort last time has to be forgiven but just two starts ago he won a handicap hurdle at Gowran going away by 10 lengths and is worth chancing. Landofhopeandglory has taken really well to chasing, winning two of his four starts and going really well when falling in a Grade 3 novice chase, and his mark of 133 looks very generous indeed. He and the last time out winner Blast Of Koeman ought to take all the beating from the top of the market.
3.35 – Lep Inn INH Flat Race (4yo): Blackrow, a taking winner of his point maiden at Maisemore Park, is hotly fancied to get off the mark at the first time of asking although he will have to be smart to justify odds of 6/5 against The Holy One, who ran into the very smart Rapid Escape on his debut having previously won his sole point. The pair are likely to take a lot of beating although Boot Camp should step forward from his debut for the Gordon Elliot yard at Thurles recently. This surface is going to be softer than he’s encountered before by some way though. He was sixth in a valuable bumper at the Punchestown Festival when behind Gallant Jon Joe, who outran his odds in fine fashion to be fourth there; Reason Street was seventh. The well bred Ballyneety, a Milan gelding out of Riverside Theatre’s half sister, is respected too.
Advice: 1 pt win The Holy One (10/3 general)
1.05 Limerick: Signsplus Hurdle – This is a fascinating clash with a small but very select and unexposed field taking on Ex Patriot. He sets the standard and is a solid benchmark but he faces some really interesting rivals who might be worth putting an eye on in future assignments. Sandsend, a four-length winner on his one and only start at Compiegne, is current favourite.
Gordon Elliott’s Destin D’Ajonc comes over in much the same vein, having taken the Prix Pride Of Kildare at Auteuil by 10 lengths before switching stables and ownership, and just like with the favourite, the market ought to tell a great deal here.
Perhaps overpriced in comparison to the front trio in the market is Discorama, who went off 66/1 for his maiden hurdle at Punchestown despite a promising bumper debut, and belied those odds when he came to catch no other than previous Grade 1 bumper winner Blow By Blow, having been fourth coming round the turn before finding relentlessly for pressure to eventually come and catch the hot favourite as his closest pursers wilted. He jumped well under pressure that day and the form has been underlined a bit by the second beating the firth in a maiden hurdle next time. These extra two furlongs shouldn’t be a problem for him and it’s a surprise to see him as big as 12/1 with only the very deep ground a worry. He is worth chancing each/way.
Orion D’aubrelle has had only one run for Willie Mullins, when he didn’t jump well enough to get involved in a Grade 2 juvenile hurdle, and it’s interesting that Alexis Porier is over to ride – and that he’s pitched in at the deep end once again. It’s hard to fancy Indian Monsoon.
2.10 Limerick: McMahons Builders Providers – New Online Store Just Launched Novice Chase (Grade 2) – The market has this Grade 2 as a match between the highly promising Al Boum Photo and the useful and proven novice chaser Tombstone, and it’s not hard to see why given they’re the most talented in the field. Neither is a tempting bet though, given that Al Boum Photo is 4/6 on his second chasing start, but he has infinitely more promise than any of his rivals here and the 3lbs he receives from Tombstone is also very handy. Abre De Vie and Dunikos both probably want to go further even on this surface whilst Tout Es Permis has been beaten heavily in graded company the last twice.
1.30 Wincanton: Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) (Class 2) (4yo+) – A traditional highlight of Wincanton’s Boxing Day meeting and fiendishly difficult as ever. Bastien was taking in victory last time at Towcester but the handicapper has been severe in upping him 10lbs for that and Kevin Dowling’s claim is now 3lbs lower than it was then.
Poker Play’s fifth at Cheltenham was a promising effort that suggested he was settling into British life better after a light campaign last season whilst Persian Delight made a good reappearance too at Exeter, being a previous C&D winner.
Wait For Me has been chasing for a good while but the form of his last hurdling run has been franked plenty since and if he jumps well he ought to go nicely here. Kansas City Chief’s Irish chasing form makes him look well handicapped here and his debut for Neil Mulholland was taking.
The one to really watch in the market is Protek Des Flos. Once a red hot juvenile hurdling prospect, he did not take well to chasing and whilst he struggled in two handicap hurdles, and he’s now dropped to a mark of 132 with Ned Curtis taking 5lbs further off. He’s got soft ground form to boot and is worth looking at closely in the morning markets.
2.10 Wetherby: 188Bet Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo+) – A tight renewal here where Wakanda might have the best form, regardless of how well handicapper he is. It’s hard not to think that he was second in a better renewal last year with Definitely Red was a guide a margin winner and Blaklion was well behind in third, and he improved more than 10 lengths off his Rhehseal Chase effort last year. This year’s renewal looked a strong contest and if he does the same he can take the beating.
This must have been the target in waiting for Aloomooo for a good few months and following two decent runs in novice hurdles, he ought to be able to show the same sort of form that saw him rack up a handicap chase hat-trick between October and November of 2015. He should go very well along with Get On The Yager, a wide margin winner at Fontwell who has a low amount of miles on the clock. His trainer and jockey, Dan and Sharry Skelton, can’t stop winning at the moment so watch the market closely once again. Delusionofgrandeur is a wide margin of winner at Catterick last month and looks open to further improvement in a tight contest.
2.25 Huntingdon: Henrietta Knight Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Listed Race) (Class 1) (4-6yo): A fascinating event away from the ITV cameras that should shine a bit more light on the Mares’ bumper scene. Outofthisworld apparently took connections by shock when trashing her field in a Market Rasen bumper by 10 lengths, and is favourite here based on that. This is some step up in class here but her position is understandable. The form yardstick is Grageelagh Girl, who can go close in her own right, having finished second in another Mares Listed at Cheltenham when last seen. The ground there was a lot slower than it’s set to be today, and also worse than her fine second to Posh Trish, a winner of that race, at Aintree before. She could easily improve for a sounder surface.
Point winner Dullahow Gesture moved hands for £100,000 after a successful rules debut at Tipperary for Damien Murphy, the form of which seems very solid’ The second was a next time out winner by six lengths and the fourth has since won as well. That win also come on good ground and it’s hard not to be taken by the way that she moved through the field before showing a good attitude to get over the line. She can go well today, and looks the stable first string over Everlane, who now has a tongue-tie despite making a taking impression when scoring on her debut at Southwell.
The form of Strike The Pose’s surprise Kelso win has been franked by others too, and she needs respect, as does Diamond Gait, who showed such a gritty attitude to outgun 17 rivals from the front in a Warwick bumper on her debut, although the form’s been let down since. Kolci has actually beaten males, the only horse to do so, but even then her Fakenham form needs serious improving on.
Oborne Lady was fancied to do better than third on her Lingfield debut fist time out but the penny dropped too late before she took a promising. She will need to have matured a great deal in the meantime to get involved here, but cannot be totally ruled out.
Day Of Race Tips
1.25 Kempton – 1 pt win Hell’s Kitchen (7/2 general)
3.35 Leopardstown – 1 pt win The Holy One (10/3 general)
3.40 Kempton – 1 pt each/way Jaleo (20/1 general)
1 pt each/way Debuchet, 2017 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (20/1 Bet365)
1 pt each/way Debutchet, 2017 Ballymore Novies’ Hurdle (20/1 SkyBet)
Ante-Post (already advised)
1 pt each/way Whisper, 2017 King George VI Chase (10/1 general)
1 pt each/way Whisper, 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup (16/1 general)