It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Kempton RacesBy Niamh

There’s no doubt that Christmas is one of the most exciting times of the year, it is the pinnacle for many people of the entire calendar and for racing fans this is no exception with a week of high class National Hunt racing to add a little more to the festive celebrations.

Whether you’re braving the cold this week and going to one of the race meets at Ascot, Kempton, Chepstow or Leopardstown, or just watching from the warmth of your own home, I have studied the form and selected the horses that I think it would be wise to keep on your side over the festive season:

 JLT Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle – Ascot

This looks set to be a race to savour, with the 1st and 2nd placed horses from last year looking set to line up again, as well as French Champion Hurdler L’Ami Serge and the improving Sam Spinner. For me, the tough and hardy Lil Rockerfeller looks like he will be difficult to beat, especially based on his last race at Ascot where he beat L’Ami Serge gamely. His tenacious attitude means that he is often a tough nut to crack and you can be sure that he will try his heart out, in order to beat Unowhatimeanharry though he will need to produce the race of his life.

32Red Kauto Star Novices’ Chase – Kempton

This particular race is always entertaining to watch, and usually produces a very good winner, including Gold Cup winner Coneygree, and let’s not forget who very nearly romped home in it last year if it weren’t for a fall at the final fence – Might Bite. This year’s renewal looks good enough although potentially missing a horse that could be considered a superstar, but for me the horse to beat is the consistent Black Corton. In Novice Chases, jumping is important and it doesn’t hurt to have experience on your side and Paul Nicholls’ charge certainly has plenty of that and at 5/1 he looks a nice enough price against the likes of Ballyoptic and Mia’s Storm. The other horse who I think deserves a mention is Barney Dwan who is taking a big step up in class, but looks like an interesting one to keep an eye on and might just have it in him to spring a slight surprise.

Unibet Christmas Hurdle – Kempton

Whatever horse wins the Christmas Hurdle is usually a class apart from the rest, namely Faugheen, and this years renewal seems likely to be a one horse race as reigning Champion Hurdler, Buveur D’Air looks to add this festive grade 1 prize to his illustrious record. The closest horses to him in the market are Old Guard and The New One who, putting it simply, do not look good enough to beat Buveur D’Air when he is on his A-game.

32Red King George VI Chase – Kempton

Always the spectacle of the Christmas racing entertainment, the King George hails a long line of top class winners, namely the late great Kauto Star. Last year’s winner, Thistlecrack, looks to get his career back on track after an injury that ended his season prematurely last year but he faces a number of tough challengers including top novice Might Bite and the improving Bristol De Mai. For me the winner of this race looks to be Bristol De Mai after his incredibly impressive win at Haydock in the Betfair Chase last time out and I think that he is more than capable of adding this second grade 1 prize to his record this season.

Coral Welsh Grand National – Chepstow

This is always a competitive race, won brilliantly last year by Native River, and this year doesn’t look like an easy one to call. There are two horses that stand out for me and those are Chase The Spud and Vicente. Chase The Spud won nicely on his comeback at Haydock in testing conditions and is confirmed to stay as he won the Midlands National nicely back in March. Vicente is a dual Scottish Grand National winner and ran a brilliant race on his comeback at Cheltenham. He is arguably better on spring ground, but his class might allow him to run a good race in this company.

Leopardstown Christmas Chase (Lexus Chase) – Leopardstown

In my opinion, there is only one answer when it comes to this renewal of the Lexus Chase, Sizing John.  Yes, there is a decent field set to challenge him this year – including leading novice chaser Yorkhill – but since he has taken a step up in trip he has yet to be beaten and he looked very impressive on his comeback. He should have very little trouble adding this grade 1 prize to his CV.


From everyone on the Rein It In team, we wish you a very merry Christmas and all the best over the festive season

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