There’s no doubt that, despite there being some good races this weekend, the best is still to come with Boxing Day almost upon us bringing the King George Chase and many other great races with the Welsh Grand National to come just a day later.
For us though right now we have to go simply with what gives us the best chance of landing a profit and so with that in mind we split our stakes over two days this week.
Friday we have National Hunt action at Ascot where there is some great value to be nabbed while over at Lingfield on Saturday a couple of mile-and-a-half handicaps provide us an opportunity to boost the Christmas betting bank a little more.
Friday 21st DecemberEmbed from Getty Images
1.55 Ascot (Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – THISTLE DO NICELY
We don’t know a hell of a lot about these runners which is the nature of things in such an event, while the trainer of our horse Jamie Snowden wouldn’t be among the leading lights according to most punters and it seems that will lead to us getting a juicy price.
This 4yo is improving hand over fist right now and is likely to take another sizeable step forward in this race, something that if it transpires would leave him among if not better than the fancied horses in this line-up under Aidan Coleman and perhaps even on target to contest the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle itself at Cheltenham.
Olly Murphy’s runner Thomas Darby is another improving quickly, albeit a beaten favourite last time out at Ascot, while Encore Champs is another with a solid chance in what looks a decent race fully befitting its Grade 2 title indeed.
2.30 Ascot (Noel Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – VINNDICATION
This race has cut up to become just a four-runner event and on these pages we are confirmed fans of Lil Rockerfeller’s ability, Neil King’s 7yo who bombed out at the second fence last week but who is well enough to compete again and will once again be very well fancied.
We go with facts rather than romance however and on this occasion it seems Vinndication may be the one to be on after a pretty easy success at Carlisle meant he has a perfect record under rules with 5 wins from 5 in bumpers, hurdles and now a chase race.
Had he won somewhere other than Carlisle he could be coming in here as a long odds-on shot so his last winning venue and the presence of the popular Lil Rockerfeller could well be to our advantage in the betting market. Count Meribel and Jerrysback make up the field and are both within a few pounds of getting involved.
3.40 Ascot (Listed Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) – THE GLANCING QUEEN
Friday is rounded off by a quality bumper and while in these races it will always pay to watch the market right up to go-time given that stables will often back inexperienced horses they know to be going well at home, at the moment we are pretty confident about the ability of Alan King’s The Glancing Queen and she is the selection.
After a point-to-point win in Ireland this horse was brought over to be trained in Wiltshire before scoring nicely in a bumper at Cheltenham. The winning margin wasn’t much that day but it’s worth noting that the second and third led at various points which seemed to suit while this girl had to come from off the pace and nab them late on with a good turn of pace.
She should appreciate the softer going and should take a significant step forward today, perhaps leading home Tom Lacey’s Hazzaar and Eden Du Houx of David Pipe’s yard who is two from two at present and bound to be popular in the market.
Saturday 22nd DecemberEmbed from Getty Images
2.50 Lingfield (Handicap) – REDICEAN
We’re hoping Alan King can do us a favour over the jumps this weekend but he may also provide us with a Flat winner in the shape of this Redicean should he be able to follow-up his recent win at Wolverhampton with another success here over the same trip.
All three of his all-weather performances to date have been on the Tapeta but he has improved so much on each run that despite the slight change in surface, his sequence of good form may not be at an end just yet.
His varied turf form means I don’t think underfoot conditions matter to him a whole lot, in fact if anything he may well appreciate Lingfield a little more and with Martin Harley on board he can sit nicely just off the pace before putting his finishing kick to good use ahead of Seafarer and Primero.
3.25 Lingfield (Handicap) – TAUREAN DANCER
Make no mistake this is a low grade handicap and usually we’d stay away from such events, though it seems most of the money will go on a couple of runners who may well not be at their best around this track or on this surface.
The likely favourite is the hat-trick seeking Zarrar and, while he can undoubtedly go well, his form from Kempton has often dropped when going at Lingfield and so he may be overrated in the context of this race. Ditto Andrew Balding’s Seasearch in fact so we could be left with some real value runners in this.
As much as Lady Of Authority and Konigin are on the shortlist, this Taurean Dancer looks like the smart bet under Rossa Ryan following a good effort over this course and distance when just touched off last time and he has been smartly given over a month to get over those exertions.
Look out for John Gosden’s pair in the 1.45 and 2.15 at Lingfield on this card too. Both are obvious on the book and both therefore will be very short prices but they are rock solid and should both score – perhaps a win double could yield even more profit.