Sunday 27th December 2020
“A warm welcome to my first written preview on the page in a while and I hope you all had a marvellous Christmas. In this post I’ll be previewing all the graded races on the day in the UK and Ireland as it’s another stellar day’s racing.
A quick look back at the Boxing Day action, and to be quite frank, what an absolute shambles of a race that King George. I understand folk saying that it’s good for the sport, lovely story and all that, but Frodon winning a King George? There’s more chance of me posing a threat to Anthony Joshua than there is any of that lot posing a threat to Al Boum Photo for the Gold Cup. If Kauto was still alive he’d having handing out a stern beating at the age of 20 to those in that race this year.”
The first race I’m taking a look at is the 1:10 at Leopardstown which is the Paddy’s Reward Club Chase, a Grade 1 over two miles and a furlong. This looks to be all about CHACUN POUR SOI here for me for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend at skinny odds of 1/2. He’s was beaten in this race last year when going off a short price but was said to have needed the outing, he arrives here on this occasion having won the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase at Cork the last day and if progressing from that effort will be a very tough nut to crack. His main rivals look to come from the Henry de Bromhead stable with Notebook and Put The Kettle On both lining up here, the former has a notably good record at this track.
It’s off to Kempton next for the 1:20 where it’s Grade 2 Action in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase over two miles. Another race for me that looks to revolve around one horse and that’s SHISHKIN at cramped odds again this time of 2/7. This horse looks to have a very bright future, winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season he opened his account over fences at this track in very impressive style last month and will look to build on that here with all roads leading to the Arkle. Gumball is a smart rival and will be looking to bounce back from his Cheltenham fall the last day and Tamaroc Du Mathan was an impressive winner at Wincanton last time out for Paul Nicholls.
Moving onto Wales and Chepstow, which may not even be on, but if it is the first race I’ll be looking at there is the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at 1.40 over two miles. The favourite here is Houx Gris at around 15/8 for Paul Nicholls who’s an intriguing French recruit who could well prove another top runner for the all conquering yard. I actually like the Fergal O’Brien horse here though in ELHAM VALLEY at 10/3 who’s the mount of Paddy Brennan. He was decent enough on the flat rated in the 70’s but made a very nice impression on hurdles debut last time out at Sandown when beating a decent Class 2 field in comfortable fashion. I’ll take him to come on from that effort and go well again here.
It’s back over to Ireland and Leopardstown now with the 1:45 which is another Grade 1 Hurdle over two miles this time in the form of the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle. This is one of the races of the whole festive period and I think the Willie Mullins trained APPRECIATE IT may well come out on top under Paul Townend at around 2/1. He was a very smart bumper horse having won a Grade 2 here in February before finishing second in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March, he made the perfect start to life over hurdles when winning at Cork in November in which the form of the race has since been franked. I think he’s a major player in this division and has a massive chance of putting on a bold showing here. His obvious main danger is the also very smart Ballyadam who won the Grade 1 Royal Bond when last out at Fairyhouse and as a result sits prominently in Cheltenham markets. Others worthy of consideration are N’golo and Keskonrisk.
Next up it’s the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton which is set to take place at 2.30. It’s incredibly difficult for me to see past the great ALTIOR here for Henderson and De Boinville who sits at the top of the betting at around 4/6. He needs no introduction and the dual Champion Chase will be very tough to beat here if anywhere near his best, in a race which he added to his illustrious CV back in 2018. The likes of Rouge Vif and Sceau Royal are his most likely dangers with a mention also going to Duc Des Genievres who ran well for a long way at Cheltenham in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase last time out.
The biggest race of the day is probably the Welsh Grand National which if getting the green light is set to take place at 2:50 at Chepstow. A Grade 3 over a marathon trip of just shy of three miles and seven fulongs of which I’ve sided with SECRET REPRIEVE at 7/2 for Evan Williams and Adam Wedge. He was last seen when bolting up here the trial for this race at the beginning of the month and I think there could well be a lot more to come from him. He went clear in very impressive style that day and is a lot more progressive than most of them here.
The final big race I’ll be looking at on a day packed full of them is the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown which takes place at 2:55 and is a Grade B Handicap that’s ridden over three miles. I like two in this fiercely competitive affair the first of which is the Gordon Elliott trained FARCLAS at a general 10/1 who’s the mount of Jack Kennedy. A very classy hurdler which saw him win the Triumph Hurdle back in 2018, he won three on the spin over fences back in 2019 and returned after a lay-off with a fine effort in fifth in a hot handicap at Punchestown in November. If coming on from that run I think he’s got more than enough ability to be competitive here. The other I quite like here is CAPTAIN CJ at the slightly bigger price of 12/1. He was last seen finishing third in a similar race to this at Fairyhouse last time behind the smart Court Maid, he’s since only been raised a pound for that effort and has every chance of giving his running once more off this mark.