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It's time for the best day over the Christmas Period, so get stuck into the shed load of racing we've got in store on Boxing Day. Tuck into your Turkey sandwiches which have been left over, slouch on the couch and have a great day. As always, put your fancies in the comments.
Kempton 1:20 – Giovinco 11/4 (1pt, WilliamHill)
I'm hoping that Giovinco is fresh enough to do himself justice as he only ran at Sandown 18 days ago when finishing as runner-up to Stay Away Fay, but I think it was obvious he blew his own chance away in that race.
Stay Away Fay is a horse who stays very well, and for me he has to be targeted at the NH Chase over 3m 6f at the Festival as he would win that race, but for the 3m Novice race (Brown Advisory is it called these days?) I think the Irish horses would smoke SAF. So, in theory, it wasn't a bad performance to be outstayed by the Nicholls horse, especially when Giovinco was a bit too keen through the race and never dropped the bridle. Now he's back on a slightly sounder surface on a speedster track I think he has a great chance of winning this race against totally different horses.
Hermes Allen was a good winner on chase debut at Newbury, he is an ex-Grade 1 winner, but if you look through his form, is he really that good or has he been flattered? I think the latter is true as the run at Aintree in the Grade 1 which saw him back in 3rd looks fairly shoddy for the top level. Irish Point is a good horse, but Kateira was second and she's been woeful in her two starts this season. Il Est Francais is overhyped in my opinion. I tipped him up a couple of times last year and he delivered, but his wins have come in weak races and when he was stepped up he got battered, he relishes heavy ground which he won't get and has to prove he stays this far. The yard from France has sent a couple of runners to the UK with big reputations and they've been battered, so I wouldn't touch him with a barge pole.
Aintree 1:05 – Florida Dreams 14/1 (0.5pt EW, Bet365)
For the inaugural Tolworth hurdle running at Aintree, I thought that Florida Dreams was worth an EW bet on ground which would be very testing.
It's going to take a lot to get home at Aintree today, the ground is soft and the going stick suggests it's going to produce some extremely slow finishes, so having a horse who can finish a race off is probably going to be needed. It's obvious that Florida Dreams hasn't set the world on fire since moving to hurdles from his Grade 2 bumper win at this track, but I think he is a horse who will relish when upped in trip, so the stamina I think he has, he can put that to use with a strong finish to run down the horses ahead of him to land a Grade 1.
This is probably not a vintage renewal of this race, but it looks wide open and the odds suggest many of these can win this. Florida Dreams does his best work at the finish of his races as we saw with his bumper run at Musselburgh where he showed a crazy turn of foot at the finish to put the race to bed. He was off the bridle just after turning for home at Aintree in the Grade 2 bumper, he was brave to nip up the inside and he stayed on strongly to win that day, and on his last hurdles run he did the same, with the front two pulling well clear of the rest. I think that a return to Aintree will be a big positive for him, it has a long straight which will help him reach top gear and at the odds, I think he is being massively overlooked.
Aintree 1:40 – Classic Lord 6/1 (0.5pt EW 3pl most big firms)
This is obviously a step up in class for Classic Lord but on the basis that he's been winning over 2m and 2m 1f yet looking like a better horse over further, he can take this step up in class in his stride.
As i previously mentioned, this is going to be very testing so having a horse who handles the conditions is going to be a MUST. Classic Lord has won two on the bounce on heavy ground, albeit in novice races, but I thought his win when carrying a penalty last time out at Bangor was a smooth win and a win which looked like he'd have no problems in handicaps. For his handicap debut running out of the weights by 5lbs, he gets 7lb claimer Daire Davis on board, so he isn't running out of the weights and running from a racing weight of 9st 9lbs on what will be close to heavy ground looks a very smart decision from the Tim Vaughan yard.
The form of his novice wins looks decent enough for him to be very competitive in this race as he battered Intimate who has since finished a close 3rd on his next start. I'm expecting a nice performance from this horse who could be ahead of his mark by a fair margin based on his flat form when trained by Andrew Balding, which saw him reach a peak rating of 90.
Sedgefield 12:15 – Imperial Measure 9/4 (1pt, WilliamHill)
I get the feeling a lot of people who are looking at the smaller cards for Boxing Day will fancy their chances on backing Imperial Measure.
I do try and stay away from backing horses from this yard as they pick and choose when they want to try with their horses. However, the form this horse has in the books looks far too strong for him to be running off a mark of 90 and he should have more to come from this low mark for a 5yo. The form of the Exeter run behind Asian Spice has produced winner after winner, ranging from the top places right down to horses who were tailed off. He was then ridden very cold at Taunton, which saw him go off as favourite, which is surprising as it must've been a fake gamble produced by the bookies as Adam Wedge is normally mustard when the money is down from the Evan Williams yard. The winner turned out to be well-handicapped and went on to win again, with the front three in the next race pulling well clear of the rest.
It's interesting that this horse has turned up at Sedgefield on Boxing Day, which is a day when many yards like to land a ‘Christmas gamble'. Evan has a 21% SR at this track and I think this lad could take some stopping if they are really trying this time around.
Sedgefield 2:35 – Duo D'Enfer 5/1 (1pt, Bet365)
I really do think that Micky Hammond has a good chance in a few races on Boxing Day, but this race stood out to me as his most likeliest winner of the bunch with Duo D'Enfer.
This doesn't look a strong race, with only a couple really having outstanding claims, but I just thought that the drop back to 2m 3f for Duo D'Enfer would be enough for him to secure a win. Tom Creen has to be respected at a track he loves, and he should be classed a course specialist, but I don't think he's on the best of handicap marks these days, whereas I thought Duo D'Enfer ran a belter in a better race at Wetherby over a trip which was too far last time (3m). He went through the race nicely, but you could tell he was running on empty approaching the last couple of fences, and towards the finish he was shattered.
This horse is looking well-handicapped on his French form where he did most of his running over this trip or similar, given that he is now 107 rated but was producing ratings of 127 and 120 on testing ground over 2m 3f.
Market Rasen 2:57 – O'Connell 9/2 (1pt, Bet365)
I was a bit gutted that I didn't go with my head when O'Connell last ran at Market Rasen as I did think he was on a good handicap mark but the 12st he was carrying that day put me off, but he ran out a ready winner and I think he has plenty left in the locker for a race like this Lincolnshire National.
He is unexposed at this trip, he has to prove he stays this far, but given that top weight carrying performance over 3m where he wasn't stopping at the line I think he can be even better over this type of trip. Though his win was in a lower grade, I thought his run prior to that at this track behind a very well-handicapped horse was a great effort, and with them coming here twice, it seems like this race has been the plan for some time.
The yard are in great form now after starting the season off very slowly, and towards the foot of the weights, I think he has a great chance.
Kempton Park - 1:20 pm
11/4 @ William Hill
Aintree - 1:05 pm
14/1 @ Bet365
Aintree - 1:40 pm
6/1 @ Bet365
Sedgefield - 12:15 pm
9/4 @ William Hill
Sedgefield - 2:35 pm
5/1 @ Bet365
Market Rasen - 2:57 pm