Ascot Christmas Meeting 2018 Preview.

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There’s a ‘cracker’ of a Meeting at Ascot over the next couple of days which kicks off on Friday where there’s a very decent renewal of the Supreme Novices Trial which takes place at 1.55. This intriguing affair which is contested over a distance just under two miles see’s the very highly thought of Angels Breath head affairs for Nicky Henderson. He was well backed before being withdrawn at Cheltenham last week and has also received support for the Supreme itself in March. He was last seen when winning an Irish point in impressive style and is clearly holding big expectations on his shoulders which reflects in his price as the 5/2 joint market leader. The horse that’s battling it out with him at the top of the market is Olly Murphy’s Thomas Darby.He’s a horse that’s already established himself as one with a lot of ability and he was just denied by another smart sort over track and trip last month. His partnership with Richard Johnson is once again renewed and he’s a clear player again.

Danny Kirwan is also a horse that’s held in high regard and despite getting beaten when odds on in a match on his reappearance there’s likely a lot more to come from Paul Nicholls charge as time goes on, potentially over slightly longer trips. You can find him in the betting at a general 11/2 with Harry Cobden in the saddle. Seddon was disappointing when well fancied last time at Cheltenham and will be looking to return to the form of his impressive win at Stratford. Paddy Brennan takes the ride for Tom George and he’s a best priced of around 8/1. There really is a what feels like never ending potential in this race. Encore Champs and Thistle Do Nicely are two more of whom could progress into very useful sorts.

Race Verdict:

This really is a top top race with an abundance of potential scattered all around the contest. Angel’s Breath could well be anything and if he’s anywhere near as good as the hype that surrounds him he could blow them all away. I’ll be siding with the experience edge though and a horse im a big fan of and that’s Thomas Darby. He might have a bit to prove on this going but his run here over course and distance last time should stand him in good stead and a replication of said effort should see him bang there.

THOMAS DARBY – (11/4)

Richard Johnson silk


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Moving onto Saturday and the Long Walk Hurdle which is a Grade 1 affair contested over a distance of just over three miles at 2.25 and it see’s the returning Call Me Lord head affairs for Nicky Henderson. He comes here on the back of a fine campaign last season culminating in a win within Grade 2 company at Sandown when he was last seen. He’s been put in as the as the general 11/4 market leader here due to his exploits last term which is probably about right. Unowhatimeanharry won this in 2016 and finished third in it last year, he’s possibly one of my all time favourites over the jumps. He’s in the twilight years off his career now but he’s had a great old time of it under Harry Fry and bounced back with a win in the Long Distance Hurdle the last day at Newbury. As a consequence he sits prominently in the betting here as the general 3/1 second favourite.

The race has a very competitive feel to it and this translates into the betting as there is a whole host of horses battling it out at around a similar price. Agrapart was slightly disappointing on his reappearance effort when finishing fourth out five at Aintree where he was also behind Unowhatimeanharry. Sam Spinner won this last year and did it in taking style, it hasn’t gone quite to plan since though as he couldn’t manage to land a blow at the Spring Festival despite running respectably. He unseated on reappearance at Newbury last time and as a result finds himself as an 8/1 chance to retain his title. Nicky Henderson has two other representatives in the line up at present and these come in the from of Soul Emotion and the likeable Top Notch. Soul Emotion has been in great form since joining Seven Barrows winning both starts well and looks to be the choice of Nico de Boinville. You can find him in the betting at around the 8/1 mark. The fan favourite Top Notch is also down to take his place at the moment, he was last seen when winning the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase at Sandown and reverts back to hurdles here in what seems to be an attempt to get a run into him which reflects in his sizeable price of 14/1. Paisley Park comes here after back to back victories for Emma Lavelle, the last of said wins came in Grade 3 company at Haydock last month and there may well be a lot more to come. Kim Bailey’s Younevercall also looks unexposed and comes here in good form, however a step up is needed on his best form should he play a part amongst this company.

Race Verdict:

This isn’t the strongest of Grade 1’s and i’ve spent some time trying to dissect it and it certainly hasn’t been easy. Call Me Lord has obvious claims but is too short for me on a return run and Unowhatimeanharry would be my winner if i was going with my heart instead of my head. I’m going to take a chance on one of the more unexposed and upcoming types though and go with Paisley Park. I was at Haydock when he won last time and the way he stayed on in such a powerful manner was very impressive and at the prices i’d be happy to take a chance on him running well within more testing company here.

PAISLEY PARK – (8/1) (E/W)

Aidan Coleman silk


3.00 – (Silver Cup) (2m 7f 180y) (Listed Race)

The Silver Cup is a fiercely competitive Listed handicap of which a case can be made for the majority of the field. I’ve managed to find a selection that i’m going to roll with though should he not get pulled out that is and that’s Jammin Masters for Warren Greatrex. He’s got a bit to find on all known form but he made a very pleasing comeback last time at Carlisle when finishing second at Carlisle behind Count Meribel, that horse then went on to win a decent event at Cheltenham and is competing in Grade 2 company here on the Friday. He’s a well thought of sort who’s still unexposed and may well have a lot more to offer for connections.

JAMMIN MASTERS – (7/1) (E/W)

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