I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and it was great to get back to winning ways for us today as MINT CONDITION tipped at 11/2 and THIRD TIME LUCKI our NAP, returned good winners for a profitable day. Here are tomorrow’s selections.
HER INDOORS (12.45 Kempton, 1pt win @11/4) HONNEUR D’AJONC (12.45 Kempton, 0.5pts each-way @7/1) The Alan King-trained, HER INDOORS, was useful on the flat and showed plenty of promise on hurdles debut when second in a listed contest at Aintree three weeks ago. With more improvement to come, representing a yard who often do well in this race, she looks sure to go well. HONNEUR D’AJONC achieved some good time-figures when second first time out last month behind a subsequent easy winner. She is also declared in the 13.40 at Chepstow, but if connections take up this engagement, she’s worth considering. DANSE IDOL (13.55 Kempton, 0.5pts each-way @12/1) A wide-open Handicap Hurdle and I quite fancy DANSE IDOL to run a big race. Although she didn’t make a successful chasing debut as many would have expected, the Paul Nicholls-trained, Danse Idol, was undoubtedly the best of these over hurdles and is worth another chance. Her form in that sphere, particularly when runner-up in a couple of Listed events and a Grade Two reads well in the context of tomorrow’s race and her mark looks attractive. BIG RIVER (14.50 Chepstow, 1pt each-way @20/1) DIDERO VALLIS (14.50 Chepstow, 0.5pts each-way @33/1) All odds are with bookmakers paying 5 places. In the expectation that the Wales fixture will be given the green light and the ground set to be taxing, I’m quite hopeful BIG RIVER can be competitive. He’s lightly-raced for a ten-year-old warmed up for this event with an eye-catching third at Cheltenham last time out and is weighted to get closer to Yala Enki and Ramses De Teillee on this occasion. He has plenty of winning form on ground ranging from good-to-heavy and last year he finished fourth in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival from a mark of 140 and was then a fast-finishing fifth of 23 in the Scottish Grand National from the same mark on ground that would have been quicker than ideal. His penultimate outing saw him fill fifth place in the Ultima at Cheltenham again and it’s very appealing to see the handicapper keep him on a workable mark. In conclusion, Lucinda Russell sends the ten-year-old, who has good efforts to his CV in big-field handicap’s, on a 12-hour round trip (only runner of the day) and Derek Fox has his only ride on the card. He will appreciate this extra tax on his stamina and looks a serious each-way player. The other one that has caught my interest is Venetia Williams’ DIDERO VALLIS despite failing to meet market expectations in the Grand Sefton at Aintree earlier this month. I do, however, think he’ll be suited to this stiffer test if stamina given he finished his last race with plenty of running left to suggest he’s worth a go at the trip. He’s also saved his best form for testing ground and Charlie Deutsch gets down to do 9-10. Anything this yard runs in these events have to be respected given their outstanding record and, at 33/1 in places, the seven-year-old is worth an each-way saver. TEN TEN (14.55 Leopardstown, 0.5pts each-way @14/1) MITCHOUKA (14.55 Leopardstown, 0.5pts rach-way @20/1) A case can be made for most of these but TEN TEN finished a creditable fifth of 16 in a Handicap Hurdle 35 days ago, having travelled noticeably well throughout before keeping on at the one pace. He fared best of those held-up and need an awful lot of luck if granted similar tactics here, but his handicap debut mark of 138 looks appealing and, with his fitness likely to be right on the boil, I think he represents great each-way value all things considered. MITCHOUKA was only third of four in a minor event last month but connections seemed to have had one eye on this event. I firmly believe there’s a big handicap in this six-year-old and he’s 2Ib lower than when an eye-catching sixth in the Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. MANOFTHEMOUNTAIN (15.05 Kempton, 0.5pts each-way @8/1) It could be worth taking a chance on the much-improved, MANOFTHEMOUNTAIN, who is a winner of four of his five completed starts over fences. He looked on good terms with himself when fourth at Cheltenham last time and the form has taken a huge boost given the first and third have won the King George and Ladbrokes Trophy subsequently. He remains on an unchanged mark of 137 and looks competitive, form-wise.