Christmas All Wrapped Up

98604F57-0B3B-44A5-91BC-512B9C611E2F.jpegBy Samantha

Christmas time is always special and to be cherished. Time with the family, nice food, lots of eggnog (or cheap Baileys in my house) but the best part about it- of course- is the top class racing!

We were treated to many incredible performances by the equine superstars of the of the game. On Boxing Day, La Bague Au Roi gamely landed her best chase prize to date in good style in the grade on Kauto Star Novices’s Chase. Trainer Warren Great was ecstatic afterwards; he described her as “the best you’ll get”. The mare looks to be heading to the RSA Chase over at Cheltenham next. Generally, she is about an 8/1 shot but the third home that day Santini is the market leader at 4/1.

Over in Ireland that day, two very nice chasing prospects staked their claims for other novice chases at Cheltenham in March. Le Richebourg beat Mengli Khan, who was well fancied for the Arkle, in the Racing Post Novices Chase, won by Footpad who went on to win that race. Joseph O’Brien’s winner was second behind classy Delta Work, who won a grade one on the 29th, the time before this and is about an 8/1 shot with Ladbrokes for the Arkle. Over at Limerick, grade two winning hurdler Getabird was turned over by Gigginstown owned Hardline in the course’s first grade one race to be ran. A mistake at the last ruined Getabird’s chances. He is still preferred in the betting for the JLT at 14/1 and Hardline is at 20/1.

The main event of Boxing Day is and always has been the King George VI Chase. The race looked as mouth watering as a good old roast dinner. Taking their chances were two previous winners, the first and second from the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018, a dual Betfair Chase winner, 2015 Gold Cup winner and an Ascot Chase winner. It was the kind of race a national hunt fan would want for Christmas! The winner was young pretender Clan Des Obeaux for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden he fought out the finish with old boy Thistlecrack and announced himself as a leading Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.

The horse kicked off a great week for Harry Cobden. He rode Dynamite Dollars to win the grade two Wayward Lad Novices’s Chase beating well regarded Kalashnikov in a battle up the straight on Thursday. This was another big victory for him and Paul Nicholls. On the same day, Adrien Du Pont landed the penultimate race on the Kempton card, a class two handicap chase worth £9,000 more than the grade two. Getaway Trump almost gave the team another grade one victory in the Challow Hurdle but was just beaten by smart prospect Champ from Nicky Henderson’s yard.

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Before the Welsh National, there were mumbles about how short the favourite Elegant Escape was. He won in the style a 3/1 favourite of a twenty runner handicap chase over three miles five should. He was piloted by Tom O’Brien, who had won this race before on Dream Alliance for trainer Colin Tizzard. Connections are thinking about going down the same route as stablemate Native River did after winning this twelve months ago and head to the Cheltenham Gold Cup for which he is a 33/1 shot.

Also on the 27th, the Patricia Pugh owned Altior showed that he is by far the best two mile chaser out there when he romped home in the Desert Orchid. He went off at 1/8 and made easy work of his rivals. Currently, he is odds on for the Champion Chase at 1/2. Footpad is his nearest pursuer in the betting at 9/1 but he was on of many high-class performers to be beaten over the festive period. Other names include Buveur D’Air in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, Samcro could only manage fifth in the Ryanair Hurdle and Faugheen who fell heavily in behind Apple’s Jade. Gordon Elliot’s mare was just two odds on horses to win a grade one in the last week, playing into the bookmakers’ hands.

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It was also a good week for two sires in particular. Monsun’s grand-foals were the winners of four of the twelve grade ones this Christmas. Verdana Blue won the Unibet Christmas Hurdle, Le Richebourg stayed on to land the Racing Post Novices’ Chase, Hardline won another grade one Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day and Delta Work romped home in the Neville Hotels Novices’ Chase. In his racing career, Monsun won multiple graded races over middle distances but died aged 22 in 2012. He is the sire of Network, who is the sire of top horses like Sprinter Sacre and Saint Are. Also, stallion Muhtathir is having a good time of it. He is the grand-sire of top mare La Bague Au Roi and Ryanair Hurdle winner Sharjah and he is the sire of the impressively gutsy winner of the grade one Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, Quel Destin. The two former horses are by Doctor Dino who was a very smart, multiple grade one winner all over the world. Muhtathir stands for just €5,500 at Haras du Mezeray.

2019 is a time of change in the racing world. At The Races has had a makeover and become Sky Sports Racing. They have lost the Irish Racing and it has been transferred onto the updated Racing UK channel which is now called Racing TV. Last year there were many fatalities at the Cheltenham Festival and fortunately racing are working to make the racecourse safer for the equine participants in 2019 and years to come.

The last thing to say is, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎉

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