Six for Boxing Day: defending champions, a National hero and a classy sprinter
It can often prove impossible to keep track of the eight British Boxing Day meetings, not to mention the three in Ireland, so here are six names that could light up a wonderful, jam-packed day in the racing calendar
Who can stop the two-time Champion Hurdle hero? It appears few are up to the challenge in the Christmas Hurdle as the race has been reopened until tomorrow.
Nicky Henderson's seven-year-old dismissed Samcro in great style in the Fighting Fifth on his return, suggesting he was as good as ever.
The last four winners have been sent off favourite and the 2m Grade 1 could turn into a procession again.
Processions don't have to be boring though and a horse of Buveur D’Air’s immense ability should be enjoyed every time he races, so make sure you enjoy the slick superstar while you can.
Buveur D’Air’s promising stablemate Santini hasn't quite scared off all of the competition in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, as Harry Fry's Bags Groove looks set to take him on.
The seven-year-old has been a joy to watch in three starts over fences this winter, recently giving 5lb and a comfortable beating to the useful Thomas Campbell at Huntingdon.
That victory that followed Grade 2 success in the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase at Wincanton, so rest assured Bags Groove will ensure the race will be a considerable test.
Describing this year’s Boxing Day highlight as intriguing does not do it justice, with most of the runners facing questions. Last year's hero Might Bite is no exception after his thoroughly disappointing return in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.
The surprising stiffness of the Haydock fences may have played a part, but his run was simply devoid of the rhythmic galloping and jumping the nine-year-old has displayed at his brilliant best.
Haydock does not suit every horse though, and if Henderson can coerce Might Bite back to top form for the festive feature, he could become the first horse to complete back-to-back wins in the King George since Silviniaco Conti in 2014.
Away from Kempton, another horse looking to bounce back is 2017 Grand National warrior One For Arthur. After a lengthy period on the sidelines with a leg injury, his comeback at Aintree ended prematurely, with Tom Scudamore – who was riding him for the first time – unseating at the third fence.
Lucinda Russell would not have been able to take much away from the nine-year-old’s brief flirt with a racecourse, but the Rowland Meyrick is a prestigious race in its own right and seems a perfectly logical step, especially as several of those entered against One For Arthur could figure in the Welsh National the following day.
The feast of racing on Boxing Day ensures there is even a little bit of brazen speed on show for Flat fans, with super sprinter Kachy set to return to action on the all-weather at Wolverhampton.
The Tom Dascombe-trained five-year-old was a frequent winner on the all-weather circuit last winter and after performing admirably in high class company on turf in the summer, connections are clearly hoping for some more success back on an artificial surface.
JP McManus’ five-year-old may not be an established name but so impressive was his Newbury triumph, he is a one to keep an eye on over the busy holiday period.
Entered in a Pertemps qualifier that McManus has won twice in the last three years, he could book his spot at Cheltenham in a race that local trainer Paul Nicholls has also won three times in the last nine years.
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