MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our racing followers and we look forward to getting back in the saddle for a cracking Boxing Day's racing.
The King George VI Chase at Kempton is the jewel in jump racing's crown and Thommo is backing Might Bite to bounce back from his Haydock disappointment last month.
Here are all our mains tips for Boxing Day and as always feel free to add your own.
DELL ORO gave useful Chesterfield a race here in late November, trying to concede 5lb to the winner. That was an encouraging start to Dell Oro’s fencing career and his hurdles third to Diese Des Bieffes and Theclockisticking at Cheltenham in April shows he isn’t devoid of speed.
TOPOFTHEGAME is fair value trading around 9-2 for the 32Red Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. An attractive, strapping individual, Topofthegame spooked at the starter’s flag on his Exeter reappearance, losing many lengths, and did very well in the circumstances to finish second. His neck defeat under a big weight in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham in March was a smashing effort.
Hot favourite Santini has done me more than one good turn and he is another imposing individual. His defeat of Rocky’s Treasure at Newbury confirmed his wellbeing. Bags Groove has yet to make a mistake over fences and joins the fray with a clear chance along with Cheltenham winner The Worlds End and smart mare La Bague Au Roi. This looks another treat.
BUVEUR D’AIR (2.30) is unopposable in the Unibet Christmas Hurdle but for those dabbling in the ‘without the favourite’ market, stablemate Verdana Blue makes appeal in receipt of her mare’s allowance.
MIGHT BITE did us a turn in last year’s 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton and is a bigger price following his Haydock flop in the Betfair Chase won with so much authority by Bristol De Mai.
Might Bite was always in control 12 months ago but, ultimately, he had only a length to spare over 50-1 chance Double Shuffle. He appeared to be idling in front and I’d draw a line through his Haydock disappointment as he was one of several horses unsettled by the very stiff fences.
Might Bite is fancied to avenge his Cheltenham Gold Cup defeat at the hands of Native River, although there was much to like about the champ’s comeback run behind Bristol De Mai. For such a consistent performer, Native River is a big ew price.
Bristol De Mai floundered in midfield last year and looks a riskier proposition, but Waiting Patiently has appeared top drawer under a softly-softly campaign plotted by the late Malcolm Jefferson.
Politologue is unbeaten in seven starts on right-hand tracks and is trading at attractive odds. Still only a seven-year-old, Politologue gave 6lb and a beating to subsequent Peterborough Chase winner Charbel when they clashed at Ascot over 2m 5f last month. Paul Nicholls, who has saddled a record nine winners of this race, is confident Politologue will stay three miles on his first start over the distance and the gelding has been successful on two previous visits to Kempton.
The 2016 winner Thistlecrack remains relatively lightly-raced over fences and made a satisfactory return at Haydock. This star-studded cast should serve up a cracker.
The action at Leopardstown over the next few days should not be missed if at all possible as there will be an abundance of Cheltenham clues on parade. Gigginstown’s multiple entries make life difficult for punters, with Gordon Elliott, for instance, saddling four in the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle on Boxing Day. Chief Justice got the better of the argument when outpointing COEUR SUBLIME (1.10) at Fairyhouse but the Dublin track may better suit the runner-up.
18:35 Thirsk - Race: 5
18:50 Warwick - Race: 6