Merry Christmas and hopefully you can cheer on some winners with my Boxing Day selections that are out nice and early below.
THIRD TIME LUCKI (12.40 Kempton, 2pt win @5/4)
THIRD TIME LUCKI was left with far too much to do the last day at Cheltenham in a Grade Two, though, still ran very well in defeat to finish second, beaten only three-lengths. This weekend’s forecast better ground will be right up his street and I’m confident Dan Skelton’s charge will resume winning ways. Furthermore, he’s the clear top-rated at 140 and should easily be capable of justifying favouritism being one of the UK’s leading novice hurdlers.
CHAMPAGNE WELL (13.15 Kempton, 0.5pts each-way @10/1)
GALAHAD QUEST (13.15 Kempton, 0.5pts each-way @16/1)
An appealing Handicap Chase and I think CHAMPAGNE WELL has an excellent chance of reaching the frame. Formerly a smart hurdler, who was runner-up in three consecutive Grade Two’s, the seven-year-old hasn’t matched those heights over fences to date, but looks very well-handicapped from a mark of 136 and is expected to be in the thick of the action.
Shrewd trainer, Nick Williams, has the exciting GALAHAD QUEST in the race, who makes his chasing debut following a couple of spins in a pair of listed hurdle races. That should have sorted him out fitness-wise and he did well to win a Grade Two event over hurdles given his size and scope to improve for a set of fences. An opening mark of 134 might have underestimated him here. Each-way player.
IF THE CAP FITS (13.50 Kempton, 1pt win @4/1)
This looks a high-class renewal of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and my selection is going to be the Harry Fry-trained, IF THE CAP FITS, who looks to have been laid out for the race by connections. Given his official rating of 160, he is rated 8Ib clear of Shan Blue at 152 and 12Ib clear of The Big Breakaway. The eight-year-old is also the only Grade-One winner in the field and, with this flat-track likely to aid his cause, he has an excellent chance here and looks the value.
EMBITTERED (14.15 Leopardstown, 0.5pts each-way @8/1)
Another brilliant Grade-One event on Boxing Day and this race is compact with quality over quantity on a variety of levels. With that said, I am surprised to see EMBITTERED chalked up at such a big price given the fact that he has compiled the strongest pieces of form over fences, courtesy of his two-length second to Easywork, who sadly lost his life earlier in the week. Joseph O’Brien’s six-year-old has plenty of top-class course form having been a classy sort in bumpers/hurdle races and he’s lost little caste in defeat over fences in both outings. He should, in truth, have plenty more to offer in this sphere and is no forlorn hope to win this event.
MINT CONDITION (14.40 Wetherby, 1pt win @11/2)
MINT CONDITION wasn’t suited to how the race panned out at Aintree last time and despite making a vital mistake at a crucial stage in his hat-trick bid, he still managed to keep on nicely to finish fourth. The handicapper has dropped him 1Ib as a result and connections drop him down in grade. I strongly suspect his mark of 127 is exploitable and he remains the type to make his mark in handicap’s this season.
CYRNAME (15.00 Kempton, 1.5pt win @5/2)
CYRNAME was a shade underwhelming when comfortably beaten by Clan Des Obeaux in this race last year, but I’m convinced his Ascot success over the mighty Altior in a gruelling battle was the main factor behind his tame finishing effort. The eight-year-old has had a much polished preparation this time around and proved his stamina and well-being over three-miles when strolling home in the Charlie Hall Chase.
It’s significant to note that Harry Cobden has chosen to ride him again rather than side with last year’s winner, so the highest-rated chaser in Britain is handed the speculative vote to atone for last year’s defeat and gain his revenge in the feature race on Boxing Day