THE festive period starts with a bang today with great cards at Haydock and Ascot. I’m off to Belfast with the boys for our annual Christmas lads outing but I’ll be watching the racing intently with a few Guinness.

1.35pm Haydock

My first selection of the day is a totally unexposed Venetia Williams runner. ELIXIR DE GOUET is still only a 4 year old but Venetia sends him chasing at Haydock in the mud first time out in the U.K.

He has plenty of form on soft ground in France and has good experience for his age as you would expect with a French jumps horse. With the 4 year old weight allowance I can see him making a winning start for his new trainer.

2.25pm Ascot

Over to Ascot for my second selection in the shape of CALL ME LORD. His win at Sandown at the tail end of last season has to be taken very seriously indeed and he is the one horse in today’s field who potentially could improve significantly.

The rest we know all about and I am very confident that Call Me Lord will improve again and announce himself as a Grade 1 horse and a major contender for the Stayers Hurdle at the festival in March. The soft ground will be no problem at all because he has won on heavy.

2.40pm Haydock

KIMBERLITE CANDY heads the market with most firms but rightly so after his last two wins. I can see him replicating his win at Ayr last time on heavy ground where the long run in is very similar to the finish at Haydock.

We don’t know how good he is yet and I am backing him today to get his third win on the bounce with perfect conditions to suit.

3.35pm Ascot

This has the potential to be the race of the day with quite a few potential improvers in the field in my book. Mr Antolini still has scope to get better again and looks potential value at a double figure price.

Likewise Jolly’s Cracked It, Fiesole and Fidux are all horses going in the right direction but my selection for the race is TORNADO WATCH for the Emmet Mullins yard.

The horse has so much potential particularly when you look at his 5th place finish at Fairyhouse earlier this month. That Irish form is so strong with lots of good horses ahead of him and in behind him that day. I would rank that form much higher than some of the U.K. handicap form and I reckon he could really make a mockery of his handicap mark here and take the prize back to Ireland.

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