Saturday Selections

TAUNTON:

2.15 – Air Horse One

Harry Fry has sent out 2 winners from just 5 runners in the last two weeks and may be able to improve upon that strike-rate with stable stalwart Air Horse One, who has dropped 6lb in the handicap following two quiet efforts this season.

The battle-hardened handicapper will compete from a rating of 141, the same mark from which he placed fourth in the 2017 County Hurdle. Furthermore, he placed second behind the rapidly progressive Jenkins from a mark of 147 on this day last year, which provides further reason for optimism.

Air Horse One also placed third behind classy operators Old Guard and Lil Rockerfeller in Grade 2 company last February, and this represents a slight drop in class for the eight-year-old, who is also a previous course and distance winner.

All-in-all, he looks a very solid proposition at a very fair price.

2pt win at 5/1 (Betfair, Marathon Bet)

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ASCOT:

2.25 – Seddon

Irish raider Thosedaysaregone landed a gamble at Wetherby last weekend and will attempt to defy an 9lb rise here. However, this is a much more competitive contest on paper and preference is for the novice Seddon, who should appreciate this step-up in trip on his handicap debut.

Tom George’s promising six-year-old comfortably dispatched the vastly more experienced Not That Fuisse, who won at Taunton 10 days ago, on debut before placing fourth in Grade 2 novice company at Cheltenham in November.

That form could hardly have worked out any better with the winner, Elixir De Nutz, landing the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown two weeks ago, while the fourth placed horse, Two For Gold, has won on both of his subsequent starts.

Seddon was last seen finishing third behind antepost Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite Angel’s Breath at Ascot and makes plenty of appeal off a mark of 137 if settling better over this longer trip.

He remains a horse of significant potential.

2pts win at 9/2 (Bet365, BetVictor, Boylesports)

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ASCOT:

3.00 – Belami Des Pictons

When Venetia Williams is in form nothing is impossible, therefore there is every chance that Belami Des Pictons can defy a 440 day absence and land this competitive looking handicap.

The lightly raced eight-year-old is 3-5 over fences and was only beaten a shade over two lengths when chasing home the hugely exciting Waiting Patiently on his only outing last season.

Three comfortable novice victories in the 2016/17 campaign marked the son of Khalkevi out as a very exciting prospect and a mark of 146 could easily underestimate just what he is capable of if fit enough to do himself justice.

I would say that that is very likely given the form of the yard at present and the the fact that Charlie Deutsch has elected to head to Ascot instead of riding Otago Trail in the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock could be a tip in itself.

1.5pts each way at 6/1 (Generally)

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HAYDOCK:

3.15 – Captain Redbeard

It’s no secret that Captain Redbeard is somewhat of Haydock specialist, placing in the first three in six of his previous visits to the Merseyside venue (312123).

Indeed, the gallant ten-year-old placed second from the very same mark of 144 in the corresponding contest 12 months ago, and was third over this course and distance when hampered by two separate fallers on good ground in November.

The slightly softer conditions today will be to his liking, however, he has shown respectable form on varying types of ground and will almost certainly have been primed for this contest after again showing little enthusiasm for the Grand National fences in the Grand Sefton last month.

Trusty partner Sam Coltherd will be in the saddle and another bold bid can be expected.

2pts each way at 7/1 (Generally)

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ASCOT:

4.05 – Moonlighter

Moonlighter was arguably travelling better than eventual runner-up Downtown Getaway – who is an odds-on favourite for this smart looking contest – before crashing out at the penultimate flight of hurdles and Newbury last month.

The Jane Williams trained six-year-old had shed his maiden tag at this venue on his previous outing, and the form of his hurdling debut – when placing third behind Dan Skelton’s smart performer Anytime Will Do, who is 3-3 under rules, and Ben Pauling’s My Mate Mark, who scored on his only subsequent start – also reads well.

Downtown Getaway is entitled to come on for both the run and experience. However, he is a woefully short price in a heat containing several decent prospects and Moonlighter could easily push him all the way if non the worse for his unfortunate faux-pas.

1pt win at 5/1 (Bet365, Betfair, BetVictor, Paddy Power)

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Current profit/loss before today’s selections: +59.80pts

Good luck.

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Saturday Selections

WARWICK

2.25 – Tidal Flow

Richard Johnson will be very hopeful of landing this Grade 2 prize on a horse that he bred himself.

The Brocade Racing owned six-year-old is 2-2 over hurdles and lowered the colours of the highly regarded Downtown Getaway at Ascot last month. The Black Sam Bellamy gelding displayed both guts and stamina that day and will have learnt plenty, which can only aid him here.

I fully expect Tidal Flow to travel prominently once more and he could prove very hard to pass should a battle ensue. Indeed, he is the precisely the type of horse that the three-time champion jockey thrives on.

His price is far from generous and this will undoubtedly be his biggest test to date. However, his attitude and experience will stand him in good stead and he can maintain his unblemished record in this Grade 2 heat.

2pt win at 11/10 (Generally)

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WARWICK:

3.00 – Duel At Dawn

Duel At Dawn placed second behind subsequent Cheltenham Festival runner-up Ms Parfois in a Listed novice chase on this card card 12 months ago and looks to hold sound claims in the Classic Chase today.

Alex Hales’ nine-year-old returned to action in the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock last month, and – although he could only finish seventh of the eleven runners – the form of that contest looks pretty solid as both Sharp Response (fourth) and Houblon Des Obeaux (sixth) have won well subsequently.

The stamina-laden son of Presenting also placed second behind impressive Ladbrokes Trophy scorer Sizing Tennessee – beaten 6 lengths whilst conceding 5lbs – last term and looks potentially well-treated off a mark of 139.

Both the decent ground and his light-weight (10-5) are further factors that enhance his prospects. Therefore he is worthy of each way support in this hugely competitive heat.

1.5pts each way at 7/1 (William Hill, Coral)

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KEMPTON

2.40 – And The New

This appears to be a particularly open renewal of the Lanzrote Hurdle. However, it may pay to side with Johnny Farrelly’s charge And The New, who will be having his first start since undergoing wind surgery.

The lightly-raced eight-year-old has often shaped as though this trip would suit, and he can be forgiven his only previous effort over this distance as he was thrown in at the deep-end in a competitive contest at Prestbury Park on his reappearance, which is a big ask at the best of times but even more so when suffering with a breathing issue.

He will likely race prominently which is no bad thing at Kempton and the form of his latest effort (2nd) has been rubber-stamped by the winner, Lisp, who has placed second in two hugely competitive handicaps since, and the third home San Pedro De Senam, who scored at Huntingdon next time out.

Furthermore, And The The New finished just a neck behind the shorter-priced Doux Prentender, who received 7lbs, when the pair met at Doncaster in February – and he meets the Seven Barrows runner on 8lbs better terms today.

The ground could be a touch softer but it wouldn’t be of great concern, and his double figure price more than compensates for that minor factor. Therefore he is worthy of each way support, especially with William Hill who are currently offering 6 places.

1pt each way at 10/1 (William Hill – 6 Places)

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The Sky Bet Handicap Chase

Alan King landed the Sky Bet Chase in both 2016 and 2017 with the gallant grey Ziga Boy, and the Barbury Castle based handler looks to have another leading contender this year in the form of Ladbrokes Trophy third Dingo Dollar.

The form of that race is already looking strong with the runner-up Elegant Escape landing the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, while the fourth placed horse, Beware The Bear, recorded an emphatic success at Cheltenham on New Years Day. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that Dingo Dollar is well treated off an unaltered mark of 148.

The son of Golden Lariat is still lightly raced over fences (6 runs) and is therefore open to further improvement. While his versatility in terms of ground is always advantageous when striking an antepost wager.

He is currently available at 15/2 with William Hill. However, I envisage him being sent off a well supported favourite given how well the Ladbrokes Trophy form is working out. Therefore it makes sense to back the promising young stayer now.

SELECTION: Dingo Dollar 15/2 3pts each way (William Hill)

Commander can take control in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle

1.50 – THE LAWLOR’S OF NAAS NOVICE HURDLE (Grade 1) 2m4f

Bellshill, Death Duty and Next Destination have landed the last three renewals of this Grade 1 contest and another potential-packed field will go to post at 1.50 today.

Tornado Flyer and Battleoverdoyen, who will represent Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott respectively, are currently contesting favouritism after comfortably landing maiden hurdles at Punchestown and Navan prior to Christmas. However, with no graded hurdles form in the book, it may pay to oppose them in a race where there appears to be plenty of depth.

Come To Me and Lone Wolf also arrive here on the back of maiden hurdle victories and are open to any amount of improvement. While Sams Profile, who is freely available at 25/1, was beaten by a subsequent Grade 2 scorer on debut and could easily outrun his price.

However, the one who makes the most appeal is undoubtedly Commander Of Fleet, who was outpaced in a farcically run edition of Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse last month and will appreciate returning to the trip over which he made a hugely promising debut in November.

Aramon finished three-and-a-half-lengths in advance of the Gigginstwon House Stud runner at Fairyhouse and gave the form of a significant boost when landing the Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. And, even though Elliott’s charge was clearly unsuited by the way in which the race was run, it is to his credit that he plugged-on gamely and wasn’t beaten far.

A true end-to-end gallop over this middle-distance trip should prove ideal at this early stage of his career, and Davy Russell, who has ridden the scopey son of Fame And Glory on both of his previous outings over hurdles, will maintain the partnership.

At 7/1 he rates a very solid each way proposition.

Commander Of Fleet – 1pt each way at 7/1 (Boylesports)

Saturday Selections

SANDOWN:

1.20 – Western Miller

Western Miller is 4lbs lower than when being narrowly denied over this course and distance in November 2017 and could easily launch a bold bid in the hands of Jonathan Burke.

Charlie Longsdon’s eight-year-old was considered good enough to contest the Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March and has been dropped 7lbs following two quiet outings this this season – which means that he may be poised to strike at a venue that he likes.

The useful son of Westerner has either won or placed in 4 of his 9 starts over fences (1 win, 3 seconds). Therefore, he rates a fairly solid each way proposition with conditions set to suit.

1pt each way at 8/1 (Generally)

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SANDOWN:

2.25 – Elixir De Nutz

Rathhill is short priced favourite to land this Grade 1 contest for champion trainer Nicky Henderson, who snared this prize 4 times between 2011 and 2015 courtesy of Minella Class, Captain Conan, Royal Boy and L’Ami Serge.

The JP McManus owned youngster made an impressive debut at Newbury prior to Christmas, however, only one of those in behind have graced the racetrack subsequently and they were beaten much too far to be used as a form-guide, therefore I would rather side with the vastly more experienced Elixir De Nutz.

Colin Tizzard’s progressive six-year-old landed Grade 2 honours at Cheltenham in November, beating three previous winners and one subsequent scorer by upwards of one-and-a-quarter lengths.

The promising grey then returned to Prestbury Park in December and put-up another fine display to defy a double penalty in the hands of Harry Cobden. The second placed horse – namely Jarvey’s Plate – gave that form a timely boost when sauntering to a 13 lengths success at HQ on New Years Day.

This obviously represents a rise in class for Elixir De Nutz, however, his form looks rock solid and his experience could prove invaluable against less savvy opposition.

2pt win at 2/1 (Generally)

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WINCANTON:

2.40 – Dark Episode

Dark Episode relished the step-up to two-and-a-half-miles when getting off the mark at Leicester last month is open to further progress with champion jockey Richard Johnson back in the saddle.

The Philip Hobbs trained five-year-old placed third behind the potentially useful Hold The Note in a Newton Abbot bumper in October and was simply unsuited by the 2 mile trip when filling the same position on his hurdling bow at Chepstow one month later.

The good ground will be to his liking and the handicapper has allotted the Getaway gelding an opening mark of 119, which certainly looks fair based on what he has achieved in his short career to date.

1pt each way at 8/1 (Boylesports)

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SANDOWN:

3.00 – Le Reve & Houblon Des Obeaux

Le Reve is a dual course and distance scorer who will compete from a rating 9lbs below his last winning mark.

Lucy Wadham’s eleven-year-old returned from 19 months off the track when finishing third of three runners in a Veterans Chase at Warwick in November and will have undoubtedly been trained with this race in mind for quite some time.

The gallant performer will compete from his lowest mark mark since November 2014 and will have the assistance of Daryl Jacob in the saddle. Therefore, all looks set for another huge run at his happy hunting ground.

Houblon Des Obeaux is also a previous course and distance winner who could roll back the years for his in-form trainer.

The gutsy twelve-year-old placed sixth when sent off the 5/1 favourite for the corresponding contest 12 months ago and will compete from an 8lbs lower mark today.

Venetia Williams has been firing in winners right, left and centre over the last two weeks and Houblon Des Obeaux is more than capable of putting-up a big performance of his current mark.

He will appreciate the decent ground and should be running on strongly at the finish.

1pt each way at 9/1 (Bet365, Betfair)

1pt each way at 20/1 (Generally)

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NEWCASTLE:

3.10 – Summer Lightening

Summer Lightening was beaten a fair distance on her return to action at Kelso in November but could easily bounce back now returned to the scene of her 20/1 debut success.

The Kenneth Slack trained grey beat very little in April but got the job done in pleasing fashion, and she will be patterned by promising conditional jockey Ross Turner, who will be brimming with confidence after riding 3 winners from his last 6 mounts.

Odds-on favourite Zakharova was deemed good enough to take-in the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree in the spring but couldn’t land a blow when finishing twelfth. Therefore it may pay to take a chance on Summer Lightening, who could be very good value at 9/1.

1pt each way at 9/1 (Bet365, Skybet, Betway)

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WINCANTON:

3.15 – Copain De Classe

Paul Nicholls has enjoyed a fantastic festive season and can land the feature contest at his local track with the lightly raced Copain De Classe.

The french-bred son of Enrique returned to action with smart 10 lengths success over Nicky Henderson’s talented mare Casablanca Mix at Kempton in October, before racing far too keenly when taking-in a Listed event at Wetherby last time out.

This race represents an drop in class for the seven-year-old, who could easily have more to come after just six outings over fences. Ground and trip look ideal and a glance at his form reveals that he tends to run better when given plenty of time between races. Therefore, all looks set for a big run today.

2pt win at 3/1 (Generally)

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A brief roundup of the festive action

HENDERSON HURDLERS:

Traditionally there are already three warm favourites for the Cheltenham Festival’s three Grade 1 novice hurdles by this stage of the season, however, this year appears to be the exception. That said, Nicky Henderson has been flexing his muscles in recent weeks and now counts the favourite for both the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – namely Angels Breath and Champ respectively – amongst his string.

The former, who was an impressive 12 lengths winner of his solitary start between the flags, made a successful debut under rules when comfortably landing the Grade 2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot on December 21st, and he should have plenty more to come with that experience under his belt. While the latter, who is brilliantly named in honour of the great Sir AP McCoy, confirmed himself a high-class performer when landing the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday and now finds himself a clear 6/1 favourite for Cheltenham’s premier two-and-a-half-mile novice contest.

Mister Fisher built upon his satisfactory hurdling debut when running-on well to see-off a smart field containing previous multiple winners such as Didtheyleaveyououtto, The Big Bite and Thomas Darby on Boxing Day. Altior won this race for Seven Barrows in 2015 and this talented son of Jeremy has always been held in high regard.

Champagne Platinum is yet another exciting youngster who lived-up to his lofty reputation when sauntering to a smooth success on the same card as Champ.

The exciting son of Stowaway is now 2-2 under rules and it was interesting to see just how confident Barry Geraghty was on the four-year-old. He, like Mister Fisher and Angels Breath, could find himself contesting the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle come the spring.

Birchdale and Rathhill, who also don the famous green and gold bands of leading owner JP McManus, also showcased their ability in December when comfortably landing novice events at Warwick and Newbury respectively. The latter is set to run in the Tolworth Hurdle on Saturday and his trainer spoke of him in glowing terms when discussing the race on Wednesday.

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2 MILE HURDLE DIVISION:

Buveur D’Air tasted defeat for the first time since placing third behind the almighty Altior in the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The dual champion hurdler made a significant mistake at three from home but still looked poised for victory before stablemate Verdana Blue swooped in the shadows of the post.

The form of his breathtaking victory in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle has also taken a knock with Samcro disappointing in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown, while Summerville Boy may have been already been feeling the effects of a hairline fracture to his off-hind leg.

That said, Verdana Blue was ideally suited the by both the track and conditions and is now being lined-up for a crack at the Melbourne Cup later on this year. However, connections must be temped to detour to Prestbury Park beforehand.

Sharjah landed the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstwon and must now be considered a live contender for the Champion Hurdle.

The Rich Ricci owned five-year-old is improving at a rate of knots and is clearly very well suited by good ground. The son of Doctor Dino has already triumphed in the Galway Hurdle and Morgiana Hurdle this season and is perhaps a shade overpriced for Cheltenham’s premier two mile hurdle at 10/1.

The hugely likeable Supasundae ran his usual respectable race and will now head to Leopardstwon in defence of his Irish Champion Hurdle crown.

While Melon, who could only finish fourth, was having his first outing since Punchestown in April and will undoubtedly come on for the run.

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2 MILE NOVICE CHASE DIVISION:

Both Kalashnikov (4/6) and Mengli Khan (7/4) were sent off warm order for their respective targets at Kempton and Leopardstown but both tasted defeat whilst others emerged.

Dynamite Dollars, fresh from his Grade 1 success at Sandown two weeks previously, made his fluent fencing and wealth of experience count when lowering the colours of last seasons Betfair Hurdle winner. He must now be considered a genuine Arkle contender and is priced up accordingly.

It’s fair to say that Kalashnikov, who was far from disgraced, was not ideally suited to a sharp 2 miles around Kempton and – although he is bred to get further – could easily bounce back when returned to a more suitable venue.

Mengli Khan couldn’t quicken off a fast pace at Leopardstown where Le Richebourg, who was last seen finishing second behind Delta Work in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase, clocked a time 2.20 seconds quicker than standard.

Joseph O’Brien’s youngster, who is a half brother to 2012 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase scorer Grand Crus, is now 2-3 over fences and will most likely head back to Leopardstown to contest the Irish Independent Arkle Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival before boarding the ferry in March.

The horse who finished one place behind Mengli Khan in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March – namely Paloma Blue – put a disappointing debut effort behind him when comfortably getting the better of Moon Over Germany in a well contested novice chase at Leopardstown.

Henry De Bromhead’s Stowaway gelding ran a number of solid races over hurdles last winter including a smart third placed effort in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novices Hurdle. He could easily meet Le Richebourg in Dublin.

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3 MILE NOVICE CHASE DIVISION:

The 2018 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase was easily the classiest renewal for many a year and it took a gusty performance from La Bague Au Roi to see off a determined Topofthegame after the pair were embroiled in a ding-dong battle over the final three fences.

The winner travelled prominently throughout the 3 mile contest and found plenty when asked for an effort by champion jockey Richard Johnson.

Lostintranslation boosted the form of her two previous victories when landing the Grade 2 Dipper Novices Chase at Cheltenham on New Years Day and Warren Greatrex has already confirmed that she will head to Ireland to compete at the Dublin Racing Festival in February. However, he has also suggested that she may bypass the Cheltenham Festival as La Bague Au Roi has never truly flourished in the Cotswolds.

Topofthegame, who briefly led upon turning for home, ran on resolutely and, given his sheer size and previous form, may be seen to best effect with more cut in the ground. That said, he ran a mighty race and would certainly be of significant interest in either the JLT Novices’ Chase or RSA Novices’ Chase should the ground come up soft.

Santini was sent off a well supported 11/10 favourite but could only finish a never nearer third.

There were concerns beforehand that Nicky Henderson’s exciting six-year-old would not be suited by such a sharp track and that he may therefore become outpaced by those with more gears. Therefore it was no surprise to see two horses who have solid form over intermediate trips finishing ahead if the exciting young stayer. However, he still ran a fine RSA trial and retains all of his potential.

Delta Work, who landed the Pertemps Final in March, secured his second Grade 1 novice chase success at Leopardstown on Saturday and is undoubtedly the leading Irish contender for the RSA Chase at present.

The Gigginstown House Stud owned five-year-old was badly hampered by the early departure of stablemate Ben Dundee but soon recovered and made stealthy headway before jumping to the front at the third last fence.

Gordon Elliott pinpointed the Dublin Racing Festival as his next port of call before confirming the RSA as his probable Cheltenham target.

The impeccably bred Mortal ran a huge race to finish second on just his second outing over fences and could easily land a graded prize this term. While Blow By Blow, who was suited by the longer trip but lacked the gears of the front pair, could develop into a real contender for the National Hunt Chase.

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2 MILE CHASE DIVISION:

Altior didn’t put a foot wrong in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton and produced a breathtaking leap at the last to the to seal his sixteenth straight success.

It’s clear for all to see that Patricia Pugh’s star is well and truly in a league of his own over 2 miles and he will now go to Ascot to contest the Clarence House Chase before heading to Cheltenham in defence of his Champion Chase crown.

Last seasons leading novice Footpad suffered his second defeat of the campaign when Nicky Richards’ gallant twelve-year-old Simply Ned swooped late to land the Paddy’s Rewards Club “Sugar Paddy” Chase for the second time in as many years.

Many will start to question just what the scopey six-year-old was beating last season, especially as both the Arkle second and third – namely Brain Power and Petit Mouchoir – have returned to hurdles subsequently. However, the race was run in a fast time (-3.5s) and I am inclined to take the view that Footpad may benefit from stepping-up in trip, an idea that was muted by his trainer – who was tempted to run the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned gelding in the King George – earlier on this year.

Great Field had taken the field along before being passed by Footpad approaching the final fence.

Whilst he was undoubtedly beaten before coming to grief at the last, it should be remembered that he fell at just the second obstacle on his return to action at Cork three weeks ago and he is therefore entitled to come on for the run.

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3 MILE CHASE DIVISION:

You would have undoubtedly received some strange looks had you predicted that Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy would land the two premier staying chases on either side of the Irish Sea this festive season, however, they both ran out convincing winners and simply have to be considered genuine Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders.

Upon turning for home at Kempton it looked as though the mighty Thistlecrack was going to roll back the years and land his second King George in three years, however, Harry Cobden and Clan Des Obeaux stylishly moved upsides and more than had his measure after jumping the last.

Paul Nicholls’ improving six-year-old travelled and jumped with aplomb and could easily have more to offer given as he matures further. While Thistlecrack, who has well and truly confirmed his well-being, has a number of potential options. However – given the way he travels through his races – I can’t help but feel that he would be some sight dropping back in trip to contest a race such as the Ryanair Chase, where he could go hell for leather from the front and really put-it-up to his rivals.

Native River simply wasn’t suited by this 3 mile speed test but still ran a big race to finish third thanks to his determined and dogged attitude. While last year’s winner Might Bite, who could only finish seventh, was found to have bled post race.

The former will head to the Denman Chase at Newbury – a contest that he has won for the last two years. While Nicky Henderson has announced that Might Bite will have his palate cauterised and won’t be seen again until Cheltenham.

Kemboy, who missed the Ladbrokes Trophy due to travel issues, gained ample compensation when storming clear to land the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

The rapidly improving six-year-old made it two Grade 1 victories in as many days for the Supreme Horse Racing Club, who were still nursing the sore heads brought on by Aramon’s success in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle on 24 hours earlier. However, as exciting as Aramon may be, it is Kemboy who is set to contest the most coveted prize in National Hunt Racing and Willie Mullins will be hopeful that he has finally found the horse to break his duck in the race.

Monalee ran a big race to finish second and has the scope for further improvement over staying trips this term. However, given his second placed efforts in the 2017 Albert Bartlett and 2018 RSA Chase, he could be ideally suited to the Ryanair Chase as two-and-a-half-miles on the more stamina-demanding new course would potentially suit him perfectly.

Road To Respect can be considered somewhat unlucky as he was squeezed for room when the pace increased and stumbled badly on the approach to two from from home. Therefore, his effort can be upgraded and he will head to the Dublin Racing Festival as a main protagonist for the Irish Gold Cup.

Coney Island ran an eye-catching race and should be monitored closely. While both Bellshill and The Stroyteller also performed creditably.

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OTHER BUSINESSES:

Apples Jade romped home in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstwon following Faugheen’s mishap at the second from home. However, she was leading at the time and deserves full credit for yet another scintillating performance.

The high-class mare is obviously versatile in terms of trip but will most likely – almost certainly – line up in the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham. However, with Samcro under a cloud, could connections be tempted to run the nine-time Grade 1 winner in the Champion Hurdle?

It was a great relief to everybody that Faugheen rose to his feet and walked away following his extremely heavy fall and Rich Ricci’s pride and joy could easily atone for that unfortunate incident at some stage during the spring.

Elegant Escape displayed guts and stamina in equal measure to see off Chepstow specialist Ramses De Teille in the Welsh Grand National.

The Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up has always given the impression that he would relish a marathon trip on soft ground and confirmed that notion with a smart staying performance.

Life will be tougher off a revised mark of 159, therefore graded races may now be on his agenda.

Glen Forsa defied a market drift when scoring at Kempton on Boxing Day and he could still be well treated off his new mark of 134.

Stablemate Mister Whitaker placed second in the corresponding contest 12 months ago before claiming Cheltenham Festival success in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, therefore it would be no surprise to see the promising six-year-old go down that same route.

If that is indeed the plan then Glen Forsa would almost certainly have to go in again as his new mark of 134 would likely miss the cut-off. The Timeform sponsored handicap chase on Cheltenham Festival Trials day could be the ideal target.

Lostintranslation displayed a very pleasing attitude when flying up the hill to re-pass Defi Du Seuil in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices Chase at Cheltenham on New Years Day.

Colin Tizzard’s imposing youngster boasts good form over fences having bumped into Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase victor La Bague Au Roi twice and looks an ideal candidate for the JLT Novices Chase – which is run over the same course and distance – in March.

Defi Du Seuil did little wrong but perhaps didn’t see out the trip. Therefore the Arkle may prove a better long-term target.

Sire Du Berlais caught the eye when placing sixth in a Pertemps qualifier at Leopardstown last week.

Gordon Elliott’s charge finished fourth in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle last March and just so happened to qualify in the same race in which stablemate Glenloe – who was very narrowly denied by Delta Work in the Cotswolds – qualified in last year.

He was a 50/1 chance in the immediate aftermath of last weeks race but it now no bigger than 16/1. It would be no surprise to see that price contract further.

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New Years Day Selections

CHELTENHAM:

12.50 – Perfect Candidate

Fergal O’Brien’s gallant twelve-year-old has dropped 9lbs in the handicap following 3 disappointing efforts this season and may now be poised to strike off his lowest mark since April 2016.

The experienced campaigner landed a Grade 3 prize over this course and distance from a mark of 152 in November 2017 and will have conditions to suit with his trusty partner Paddy Brennan in the saddle.

There are dangers aplenty, however, Perfect Candidate is very well treated in his best form and often pops up when you least expect it. Therefore, he simply has to be supported at the generous price of 16/1.

16/1 1pt each way (Betbright)

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FAKENHAM:

1.55 – Wind Place And Sho

Wind Place And Sho gained his first success over hurdles when scoring at Fontwell in early October and was only denied by the progressive Canyon City when returning to the same venue three weeks later.

His latest run, when finishing eighth of ten runners at Wetherby, was naturally disappointing. However, it’s possible that the former flat performer simply didn’t fire that day and he could easily bounce back off a mark just 2lbs higher than his aforementioned second-placed effort.

Ground, track and trip look favourable and Robbie Dunne, who has been amongst the winners of late, will take the ride. Therefore he is worthy of a small investment.

15/2 1pt win (Skybet, BetVictor, Betbright)

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EXETER:

2.25 – Run To Milan

Victor Dartnell’s seven-year-old placed fourth in a warm course and distance contest in November and may be ready to strike with conditions set to suit.

The winner of that contest – namely Just A Sting – placed second at Kempton last week. While the third placed horse, Reikers Island, won his next start by a comfortable 6 lengths and may have followed up in the Mandarin Chase at Newbury on Saturday but for a shuddering error at the final obstacle.

The Milan gelding scored over hurdles at this venue last term and looks to be on a fair mark judged on his latest outing. Soft ground undoubtedly brings out the best in, therefore a big run can be expected today.

4/1 2pt win (Paddy Power)

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