Some Real Crackers To Make Xmas Go With A Bang!

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Reve De Sivola

Shopping for gifts, visiting in-laws and trying to find a tree that will fit in the car to take home?… If things are already getting a bit much for you, then take heart from the terrific races we can look forward to over the festive season!

unowhatimeanharry

Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle

Ascot, Saturday, 23/12/2017

Grade 1

For 4 year olds and upwards Distance: 3m1f

Purse: 100,000 GBP

Since the turn of the Millennium, this race for stayers has been dominated by a trio of great horses. Baracouda, Big Buck’s and Reve De Sivola (the race now honours this superb jumper, following his death earlier in the year) won 10 of the last 17 renewals between them.

Unowhatimeanharry scooped in 2016 and looks well-primed to follow-up, this coming weekend, despite the bizarre result in the Newbury Long Distance Hurdle (in which both Unowhatimeanharry and Thistlecrack finished behind 40/1 outsider Beer Goggles).

The early stages of a National Hunt campaign can often provide us with unlikely winners, but this contest should be beyond the reach of the long-shots and Neil King’s Lil Rockerfeller looks the main danger to Harry Fry’s charge. Others in with a shout include Thomas Campbell, L’Ami Serge and Sam Spinner.

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Silver Cup Handicap Chase

Ascot, Saturday, 23/12/2017

For 4 year olds and upwards

Distance: 3m

Purse: 100,000 GBP

As usual, this super-hot handicap will be a very competitive affair and connections of Go Conquer, Singlefarmpayment, Gold Present, Rock Gone and O O Seven will all expect a decent run for their money.

Beware The Bear should attract plenty of market-support, following a convincing victory over Bishops Road in the Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle earlier this month.

Last year’s winner was the JP McManus-owned Regal Encore. The 9-year-old has failed to win since then, but did finish 3rd of 20 starters in Grade 3 company at Newbury last time out – despite being sent-off at odds of 66/1!

The only horse under the age of 6 to have won this race, since 1999, was The Young Master. Neil Mulholland’s inmate is expected to run, on Saturday, but does look up against it on recent form.

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Jenkins

Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle

Ascot, Saturday, 23/12/2017

Grade 3

For 4 year olds and upwards

Distance: 2m

Purse: 160,000 GBP

Nicky Henderson will have high hopes, regarding this 2-mile Grade 3 encounter. The likes of Divin Bere, Lough Derg Spirit, Verdana Blue and Charli Parcs are expected to start. Jenkins is another possibility.

Willie Mullins’ Meri Devie has impressed in Ireland, although hasn’t actually won a race since Christmas-week of last year. The filly’s 2nd place in the Grade A Bar One Racing Handicap Hurdle indicates that she is fast-improving though and she might have won if not impeded 3 from home.

Alan King’s Elgin provided connections with a double windfall, in November. Victory in Listed company at Ascot was followed by a Grade 3 success in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Cheltenham). The New One finished almost 6-lengths behind Elgin in 4th place and the form was boosted by Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge securing runner-up spot in last Saturday’s International Hurdle (won by My Tent Or Yours, with Melon back in 3rd place).

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King George VI Chase

Kempton, Tuesday, 26/12/2017

Grade 1

For 4 year olds and upwards

Distance: 3m

Purse: 200,000 GBP

Thistlecrack was a huge disappointment, in the Newbury Long Distance Hurdle and few pundits are now backing Colin Tizzard’s horse to win this race despite his brilliant victory last year. If you want to wish upon this fallen star to shine once more, you might be surprised by the odds currently on offer!

Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite is the one they are all getting sweet over now, following a perfect quartet of wins this year. The last came at Sandown in the Future Stars Intermediate Chase, in which Frodon, Label Des Obeaux and As De Mee were all outclassed.

There are plenty of other big names currently priced-up in our ante-post market including, Fox Norton, Bristol De Mai, Whisper, Djakadam, Top Notch, Disko and Paul Nicholls’ Politologue. This is always among the most eagerly-anticipated National Hunt races of the year, so make sure that you don’t miss it! Recent champions include legends such as One Man, Best Mate, Kicking King, Kauto Star, Long Run and Silviniaco Conti.

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Native River

Welsh Grand National

Chepstow, Wednesday, 27/12/2017

Grade 3

For 4 year olds and upwards

Distance: 3m5f110y

Purse: 150,000 GBP

The Welsh National has been won by some terrific horses, over the years, including Burrough Hill Lad, Cool Ground, Earth Summit and Jonjo O’Neill’s Synchronised. Paul Carberry’s winning ride on Monbeg Dude (2012) is regarded as one of the best of all time. Native River landed the spoils for Colin Tizzard, in 2016 – can he do so again?

The race generally provides useful pointers, towards the English Grand National at Aintree. Bindaree and Silver Birch won both races and it’s likely that the winner of this year’s Welsh National will be installed among the favourites for the Aintree encounter – if they aren’t in that lofty group already.

There are many horses that will arrive at Chepstow with a genuine chance and they include Rock The KasBah, Wild West Wind, Vicente, Ask The Weatherman, Final Nudge, Chase The Spud and Mysteree.

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Crowd At Leopardstown

Irish Action

There’s also plenty of top-class action to look forward to, in Ireland over the festive period and it’s Leopardstown that most fans will focus on. The Racing Post Novice Chase (Tuesday, December 26th) will bring together some of the most exciting prospects in Irish National Hunt, right now.

The Christmas Hurdle (Thursday, December 28th) should be another to savour. Vroum Vroum Mag won this last year, for Willie Mullins, but don’t be surprised if a horse from a lesser-known yard seizes its chance in this event. Both Limestone Lad and Powerstation (placed 3 times in the World Hurdle) built platforms for success, by winning the Christmas Hurdle.

The Christmas Chase (Thursday, December 28th) is another major renewal and Gigginstown will be targeting a 4th consecutive victory (Road To Riches 2014, Don Poli 2015 and Outlander 2016). The roll of honour for this 3-mile race reads like a Who’s Who of Irish National Hunt and includes Rince Ri, Beef Or Salmon (a triple champion), Best Mate, Denman and Bobs Worth. In 2012, Tidal Bay (under Ruby Walsh) brought the house down with an incredible late winning surge.

There’s also the Ryanair December Hurdle (Friday, December 29th), won on 4 occasions by both Istabraq and Hurricane Fly. The last 2 winners (Nichols Canyon and Petit Mouchoir) have been 5-year-olds, although the Fly was 10 when his final win came in 2014.

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