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Boxing Day Racing - 26/12/2017

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 Boxing Day Racing - 26/12/2017 Empty Boxing Day Racing - 26/12/2017

Post by beakers2 on Sun 24 Dec 2017, 6:11 am

12.45 Kempton – 32Red Casino Novices’ Hurdle.

Perennially, this turns out to be a pretty hot novices’ hurdle and this year’s renewal looks no different. The likes of Altior and Menorah find themselves on the recent roll of honour while Greatwood Hurdle winner Elgin tasted success 12 months ago.

Being a Class 2 race, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that those with winning form under their belts already have tended to dominate with only two of the previous 10 winners being un-penalised. Half of the field arrive here as maidens with bumper winner Simply The Betts, Colin Tizzard’s Storm Home and Gary Moore’s hurdling debutants Airtight and Ar Mest looking to have a tough job on their hands against some proven rivals here.

Nicky Henderson has a cracking record with three of the last six winners and although hot favourite Jenkins proved a major disappointment 12 months ago, Diese des Bieffes looks to hold strong claims for the master of Seven Barrows this time round. The four-year-old escapes a double penalty having opened his account over hurdles in a conditionals’ event before following up in facile fashion at Taunton three weeks later. He was entitled to win that way given the opposition but nevertheless looks a nice prospect and will be there or thereabouts.

He has progressed a long way since a well beaten fifth to Irish Prophecy on his debut in a bumper here back in February, but the same can be said about the winner. Emma Lavelle’s charge made an imposing hurdling debut at Sandown in November and wasn’t disgraced when beaten 10 lengths by the highly-promising Kalashnikov at Doncaster earlier this month. He is clearly a talented animal in his own right but may again just be found out by one that turns out to be well above average.

And that could turn out to be IF THE CAP FITS, who concedes weight all round here but has won of his five starts under rules, with his only defeat coming when a close-up fourth in a Grade 2 bumper at the Aintree Festival. The five-year-old has been entitled to win in style on each of his two hurdles starts to date, being sent off at prohibitive odds both times, but it’s the manner in which he travels through his races that really impresses me. His jumping takes lengths out of the opposition and he seems to shift through the gears with consummate ease. He readily accounted for the re-opposing Solomon Grey last time out and now meets that rival on 4lb better terms so looks certain to confirm those placings. If he wins in the same style here, don’t be surprised to see him enter the reckoning for the Supreme and the Ballymore.


IF THE CAP FITS – 1pt win @ 7/4 (bet365)

1.20 Kempton – Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap)

This looks a competitive little race with the weights topped by Hell’s Kitchen who unseated at Newbury the last time we saw him. It was too early to make a judgement on where he would have finished but his run behind River Wylde prior to that would give him a chance here. He does have a tendency to race very keenly which has stopped him producing his best in his career to date but the bigger field scenario should help him to settle a little better. He will have to settle if he is to see out the 2m4f trip but if he does, then he shouldn’t be too far away.

Paul Nicholls’ Touch Kick already has a victory over fences to his name having got the better of Lithic at Sandown a couple of weeks ago. The six-year-old showed a fine attitude to see off his rival that day and it was a big improvement on his chasing debut at the same venue in November. A 5lb rise for his victory seems fair enough and he is another who is likely to be in the mix.

Mister Whitaker was also a winner last time, staying on well in the closing stages to win at Carlisle. Adrian Heskin seemed to get on well with him that day so it has to be a positive that he is back on today. A feature of his success was how well he jumped, something which should set him in good stead for this test.

Private Malone has yet to get off the mark over fences but his recent form suggests he could have a say here. He ran Markov close at Fontwell in November and with that horse having won at Doncaster since, he could be well-treated on a mark of 125.

However, Nicky Henderson has won this race four times in the last ten years so I think it might be best to focus our attention on his two runners. Wenyerreadyfreddie has had a run this term, finishing fourth behind Maria’s Benefit at Sandown over hurdles. However, connections have wasted little time in going over fences so perhaps that was just a pipe-opener for this assignment.

Having said that, I prefer the claims of his stablemate REIGNING SUPREME who won two of his three starts over hurdles for the yard last term. His only defeat came on heavy ground at Leicester but it looks unlikely at this stage that the ground will be anything like that at Kempton. He has some experience of fences having been purchased from the Irish pointing field and with Nico De Boinville aboard, I suspect he is the stable first-string. This is clearly a race that his trainer likes to target and despite his lack of experience under rules, he gets the vote.


REIGNING SUPREME – 1pt win @ 11/2 (bet365)

1.30 Wincanton – Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls has won three of the last nine runnings of this race and looks to have another big chance with PERSIAN DELIGHT. The seven-year-old is still pretty unexposed having just his seventh start and has a pleasing enough return to action at Exeter back in November, looking as though he would come on for the run and just being run out of things as the pace quickened up over an inadequate 2m1f. Back up in trip here and down 2lb for that effort, the bounce back is certainly on the cards and he lurks on a handy weight of just 10st 5lb given the likely testing conditions.

Poker Play looks the biggest danger to the selection if turning up race-fit having had a pipe-opener at Cheltenham’s November meeting. It’s probably fair to say that he was a tad disappointing finishing a well beaten fifth but has been eased 1lb by the assessor and he represents a David Pipe yard that has won two of the last five renewals. He was a big money purchase by connections a year ago having finished just a length behind Charli Parcs on his debut in France and a decent effort here could put him back on the right tracks to repay some of their faith in him.

The class act in the field is certainly Different Gravey, although it has been over a year since we saw anything from him. He was running a fair race when unseating over fences at Newbury last time but reverts to the smaller obstacles here off a 7lb higher mark and has it all to prove. He is at least back down to his last winning handicap mark but it remains to be seen whether the spark is still there.

Philip Hobbs, a winner in two of the last four years, is solely represented by another returning hurdler in Wait For Me. The seven-year-old was never the most convincing of jumpers over the sticks so it comes as little surprise to see him revert to hurdles after a pretty torrid time over fences. He threatened to make his mark in the handicapping sphere over the last couple of seasons but isn’t one for maximum faith and was well beaten on merit off this career-high mark at Newton Abbot back in September.

Bastien is an interesting contender having hosed up at Towcester last term under his young rider. However, up 10lb and an additional 3lb with Kevin Dowling now only claiming 7lb in this much stronger race, he looks to have a lot on his plate and this may just prove a step too far at this stage of his career.


PERSIAN DELIGHT – 1pt e/w @ 7/1 (William Hill)

1.55 Kempton – Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Last year’s renewal of this race provided us with one of the most dramatic moments of the whole jumps season as the stunning performance of Might Bite was cut short as he approached the last 20-lengths clear of the field, only to clatter into the last and fall in incredible fashion, handing the race to 33/1 shot Royal Vacation. While we’re unlikely to see such scenes again, this year’s contest looks a very competitive renewal.

The seven runners are headed by BALLYOPTIC, who was surprisingly beaten by Black Corton at Cheltenham on his last start. Those two meet again on identical terms here and although there wouldn’t be any particular reason on the numbers why that from would be reversed, I can’t help but feel that Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has more progress in the locker and will find this flatter track much more to his liking. He made a mistake at the last at Cheltenham, just as he was about to renew his challenge, so it’s not impossible to think he would have finished much closer there, if not indeed beaten Nicholls’ horse, as well. His chasing debut win over Elegant Escape, Barney Dwan and De Dollar Man was hugely impressive and does stick in my mind as one of the best novice chasing performances I’ve seen so far this season, so I’m not about to desert a horse I feel could be a big player in the RSA Chase – the tough battling contest that could suit him so well come the end of the season. He’s a very strong stayer, enjoys soft ground (even though he’s versatile) and after all the mistakes he made over hurdles, fences seem to be the making of him as he gives them plenty more respect.

Black Corton has been running at a very high level for a while now and is the highest rated horse in the race at 155, but he has been on the go regularly since June. He was beaten for the first time since that month last time out and these continuous tasks at a high level could well begin to take their toll soon, as will the fact that many of his rivals are comparatively unexposed, but he should run a creditable race again.

The victor at Newbury, Elegant Escape, re-opposes here but on 3lb worse terms and trainer Colin Tizzard will hope he’s improved again since that race as he’ll have to in order to make sure he keeps Paul Nicholls’ horse behind him. He’s clearly smart and should have more to come, but he was hammered by BALLYOPTIC at Exeter and I think that horse plainly has more ability and progress in the locker than him. Tizzard also has another candidate in West Approach whose effort behind Black Corton and BALLYOPTIC at Cheltenham was admittedly disappointing, but he was right back to form when winning at Exeter over two and a half miles in desperate ground. He does tend to jump left though and could well be better at the shorter trip, so he’s passed over as well.

Fountains Windfall also had every chance in that Newbury race won by Elegant Escape, but he knuckled on landing three out and we’ll never know how close he would have gone. He’ll be there to set the pace, most likely along with BALLYOPTIC, and there should be a strong pace as a result, making the race one for a really strong stayer. Three miles on good ground looks to be his ideal conditions so the softer surface could be seen as a concern on that stamina count, although there was plenty of cut in the ground at Newbury when he ran well to a point last time, so he can’t be ruled out even though there may be one or two with a bit more about them in this.

Favourite at the time of writing is Alan King’s mare, Mia’s Storm and she couldn’t have made a more impressive start to her career over fences, hacking up on the bridle over Elegant Escape at Chepstow on her chasing debut before running away with a Listed mares’ chase at Market Rasen in emphatic style. She’s clearly improved a lot for the switch to fences and given that she was a good mare over hurdles, she could be something out of the very top drawer. Her 7lb mares’ allowance gives her huge claims here up against the boys and if her so far excellent jumping holds up, she’ll be extremely hard to keep out the frame. Of course, there is a major caveat with this mare – the ground. If there is a biblical downpour the night before (some rain is forecast) and the surface turns genuinely soft, there is a chance that she may not run as her only disappointments in her career have come on that kind of ground – if she does run and the ground’s soft, she could be a major disappointment.


BALLYOPTIC – 2pts win @ 9/2 (Paddy Power)

2.10 Wetherby – 188Bet Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

This looks a competitive contest with three horses currently vying for favouritism, including the two at the bottom of the weights.

Warren Greatrex enjoys sending his horses to Wetherby and Aloomomo could be on a good handicap mark back over fences. His best effort over the bigger obstacles came at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival when finished sixth in the Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap. He was sent off as a strong favourite that day showing that a big run was expected from him. He has only been seen once over fences in four runs since then, falling in last year’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap at Cheltenham. The seven-year-old is still a maiden after nine runs over hurdles, but he showed promise on his latest start at the beginning of December when runner-up in a class 4 at Southwell. He travelled nicely that day but prefers an easier surface, which he will get at Wetherby on Boxing Day. Although on a potentially good mark, he currently has a bit more to prove than others in the field.

GET ON THE YAGER arrives here after getting off the mark over fences at the third attempt two weeks ago for Dan Skelton. He enjoyed the step up in trip for the class 3 at Fontwell as he saw out the three miles, two furlongs trip strongly on the heavy ground. He got the better of David Pipe’s previous winner Ramses De Teillee by seven lengths that day and now looks well worth the step up in grade. The seven-year-old had showed useful form over hurdles, winning three times from six starts, and when last seen over timber was aimed at the Grade 1 Sefton Novice at Aintree. Although he finished well-beaten, it shows the regard that he is held in and so there should be more progress to come now. GET ON THE YAGER, for the leading trainer at Wetherby, is receiving weight from all of his rivals (except Aloomomo) and he can prove himself up to this level with the trip and conditions to suit.

Of the rest of the field, course and distance winner Delusionofgrandeur comes here off the back of a good success at Catterick last time to take his record at that course to four wins from four. Employing his usual prominent tactics, he defied top weight to win the class 3 handicap by four and half lengths. He looks likely to give his running again on Boxing Day for trainer Sue Smith, but may find one or two too strong for him up in grade. Smith also runs Wakanda in the race and it is interesting that he is the choice of stable jockey Danny Cook, who has been the regular rider for Delusionofgrandeur as well. Wakanda was runner-up to Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red in the Rowland Meyrick last year and is now 5lb lower in the weights this time around having not been in the same form since. He would be dangerous if bouncing back to form here.

Another course and distance winner in the line-up is Baywing for trainer Nicky Richards. The eight-year-old was an impressive winner of this year’s Towton Novices’ Chase, enjoying the stamina test of three miles on soft ground to win by twenty-two lengths. However, he has not been able to build on that performance in three runs since, falling at the first fence when last seen at Haydock. Conditions will be in his favour for the Rowland Meyrick but he needs to return to form here.


GET ON THE YAGER – 2pts win @ 4/1 (Paddy Power)

3.40 Kempton – 32Red Download The App Handicap Hurdle

The Boxing Day at Kempton card closes with a competitive 2m5f handicap hurdle, where the weights are headed by Charlie Longsdon’s Our Kaempfer. The eight-year-old has tended to save his best form for this venue in the past but his recent form suggests he could be up against it. In fairness, his reappearance run at Newcastle wasn’t too bad but he was pulled up when out of contention and on the balance of things, I think he should be passed over here.

Harry Fry’s Dashing Oscar comes here in search of the hat-trick, having won at Fontwell in October before following up at Bangor the following month. He continues to creep up the weights for each of his victories but a 5lb rise for his latest success seems fair enough and it far from rules him out of contention. He does have to concede weight to most of the field which could be the most difficult thing but he is clearly thriving at present and looks a leading contender.

Another last time out winner is Golan Fortune who recorded his second win in his last three starts when winning at Ascot on Friday. Daniel Samson was seen to good effect on the five-year-old that day and if he takes up this engagement, he looks interesting under a penalty.

Connetable is not the most consistent member of the field but a reproduction of his best form would put him right in the mix here. Paul Nicholls’ five-year-old showed signs of a return to form in refitted blinkers at Sandown last time, just being worn down in the closing stages by Holly Bush Henry. He may have found 3m stretching his stamina that day so the drop back in trip could suit here.

However, the younger less exposed horses have fared best in this race in recent years and with that in mind I like the look of KILDISART. Ben Pauling’s five-year-old showed a fine attitude to win at Ascot last time and the form of that race has worked out well since then. In his Irish pointing days he finished second to Claimantakinforgan, who won well at Ascot on Friday and I suspect that we have yet to see the best of this horse under rules. He starts off life in handicaps on a mark of 128 which I suspect he can improve on and he seems to tick plenty of boxes.


KILDISART – 1pt win @ 11/2 (bet365


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