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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

The delightful dozen: big names to get excited about over Christmas

Apple's Jade and Jack Kennedy win the Hatton's Grace Hurdle
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With Christmas fast approaching 12 of our writers pick out the horse they are most looking forward to seeing over the festive period . . .

December 22

Mitie Novices' Chase, 2.30 Ascot

Paul Nicholls has won this Grade 2 for the last three years – with Politologue, Le Mercurey and Ptit Zig – and Dolos was nominated for this race after his impressive chasing debut at the course last month. Enough said.
Bruce Jackson, reporter

December 23

Thomas Campbell
JLT Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle, 2.25 Ascot

The Stayers' Hurdle division is rarely strong but it is looking especially weak this year, and the progressive Thomas Campbell could announce himself as a serious player for festival honours if allowed to take his chance in the Long Walk. He has thrived for the step up to three miles this season, with his two comfortable handicap victories strongly suggesting he is capable of cutting it at Graded level. And there's plenty more to come.
Tony McFadden, reporter

Walsh and Faugheen on route to victory in the 2015 Champion Hurdle

December 26

Unibet Christmas Hurdle, 2.25 Kempton

Remember when Dawn Run got the better of Champion Hurdle winner Gaye Brief in a thriller of a Christmas Hurdle in 1983? If you're under 40 you probably don't but you could have a Kempton cracker to tell your own grandchildren about if Willie Mullins sends across the brilliant Faugheen, who made such an exciting comeback at Punchestown last month, to take on reigning champion Buveur D'Air.
David Carr, reporter

Bristol De Mai
32Red King George VI Chase, 3.05 Kempton

I can't wait to see Bristol De Mai in the King George because his win in the Betfair Chase may just have been the birth of a new superstar. Yes, he relished the heavy ground, but to win a Grade 1 like that was special and he's finished second at the Cheltenham Festival on good ground so it's not like he's ground dependent. He's surely better value than Might Bite.
Dylan Hill, Weekender editor


32Red King George VI Chase, 3.05 Kempton

From a punting point of view I think Might Bite is a certainty for the King George but wouldn't it be something if Thistlecrack was to return to his brilliant best and bring the house down with a victory at Kempton? My pockets will be empty but, after taking an hour to lick my punting wounds, I'd have a big smile on my face – which doesn't happen very much.
Tom Park, Ante-post Focus

December 27

Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase, 1.15 Leopardstown

He always had a big frame to fill and appeared to have strengthened up well after making a successful return from nearly a year off the track at Gowran Park last month. He tanked through that race and was far too free to be fully effective at 2m4f, but that didn’t stop him winning by 36 lengths and his jumping was flawless. He could be breathtaking jumping at pace if given his head from the front over a shorter trip and I can’t wait to see him over 2m1f this Christmas.
Graeme Rodway, tipster 

Rock The Kasbah
Coral Welsh Grand National, 2.50 Chepstow

The Philip Hobbs-trained gelding looks a perfect fit for the Chepstow showpiece. He has form figures of 22111 at the Welsh venue, loves soft ground, and from a mark of 149 has the scope to prove a lot better than his current rating. Laid out for the race, he looks rock-solid and I am very keen on his chances.
Ed Quigley, tipster

Rock The Kasbah (left) has a fantastic record at Chepstow

Final Nudge
Coral Welsh Grand National, 2.50 Chepstow

Looked better than ever when just failing to overhaul Present Man in the Badger Ales on his reappearance, appearing to put to bed any doubts about his effectiveness in big fields. Stays well, is suited by testing ground and isn't fully exposed over fences.
Pietro Innocenzi, tipster

Paddy Power Chase, 3.00 Leopardstown

He emerged with few excuses when a beaten 9-4 favourite in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2016 but surely would have bolted up in the Kim Muir on his return to the festival but for unseating three out back. There should be a big day in him, and off the back of a solid reappearance over a trip shy of his optimum at Fairyhouse, the Paddy Power Chase is where he can show his true potential – I hope!
Brian Sheerin, reporter

December 28

Apple's Jade
Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle, 1.50 Leopardstown

Wouldn't we all love to see what the feisty female is like over three miles? I certainly would. Gordon Elliott has insisted that she will try to retain her OLBG Mares' Hurdle crown at Cheltenham in March but why not let her try the longer trip at Leopardstown? There are not many suitable showdowns for her over Christmas and she has already beaten Nichols Canyon in the Hatton's Grace. It makes perfect sense.
David Jennings, deputy Irish Editor of the Racing Post

Yorkhill and Ruby Walsh kickstart a four-timer for Willie Mullins on day three of the Cheltenham Festival

Leopardstown Christmas Steeplechase, 3.00 Leopardstown

Yorkhill is box office whenever he runs so let's hope he makes his reappearance in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown. He'll be going left-handed so there will be no excuses for him, and if Sizing John goes up against him we'll get a good barometer of where he is at with regards to Cheltenham.
Nicholas Watts, tipster

December 30

Slate House
Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle, 3.00 Newbury

There is nothing as exciting as the next bright young thing and after gorging on a packed Christmas calendar I could think of no sweeter treat than watching the latest star off the Colin Tizzard production line attempt to confirm his superstar status by winning a Grade 1. It is a race that always throws up a good one and Slate House is just that.
Stuart Riley, reporter

If you are interested in this, you might also like:

Here's why Kempton's closure would be a massive loss to punters

57 lengths: Bristol De Mai blows Grade 1 field apart in Betfair Chase

I couldn't back disappointing Thistlecrack for anything


Look back on the best jumps action of the year in the new edition of the Racing Post Annual. Order now at or call 01933 304858



You could have a Kempton cracker to tell your own grandchildren about if Willie Mullins sends across the brilliant Faugheen to take on Buveur D'Air
E.W. Terms
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