Wednesday, one of the biggest days racing of the year. It turned out to be a day to remember for our members. The feature race as it always it was, of course, the King George at Kempton. Clan Des Obeaux provided Paul Nicholls with a 10th win in the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton – and now the Cheltenham Gold Cup is in his sights. In an incident-packed renewal, for a brief moment, it looked as if the 2016 winner Thistlecrack was about to roll back the years when he hit the front, but he ultimately had no answer after the last to a rival four years his younger. Thistlecrack was advised to our members (1pt each way) 8/1. There was a major shock in the Christmas Hurdle. Verdana Blue ended the long unbeaten run of dual champion hurdler Buveur D’Air in the Unibet Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. The Kauto Star novice chase went in great style to La Bague Au Roi who put in a lovely round of jumping. Mister Fisher took the opening novice hurdle in good style. Glen Forsa took the novice handicap chase for Mick Channon.
At Wetherby, the feature race the Rowland Meyrick went to Lake View Lad. At Wincanton, there was a double for Paul Nicholls with Flic Ou Voyou and Posh Trish. At Huntingdon, Well Smitten took the feature race for Amy Murphy. At Sedgefield, there was a double for Philip Kirby with Nicely Indeed and Dares To Dream. At Market Rasen, the Lincolnshire national went to Dan Skelton with Ange Des Malbereaux. At Fontwell, there was a double for Gary and Jamie Moore with Sussex Ranger and Chivers. At Wolverhampton, there was a double for Sir Mark Prescott with Isle Of Avalon and Klass Action. At Limerick, Hardline capitalized on a mistake by the odds-on Getabird at the final fence to take the Grade One spoils in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase. Moskovite took the mares handicap hurdle. At Down Royal, Presented Well brought up a Down Royal double for Henry de Bromhead and Dylan Robinson. Their double was initiated by Sinoria in the maiden hurdle. The five-year-old was merely shaken up to stroll home by 13 lengths and justify 5/2 favoritism. Valdieu brought up a double for Noel Meade. Meade won the opener on the card with Getaway Kid (11/2).
At Leopardstown, Le Richebourg got his Grade One reward over fences at the second attempt when leading home a one-two for trainer Joseph O’Brien in the Racing Post Novice Chase. Le Richebourg 220 Leopardstown advised to our members (2pts win) at 7/2. Rocky Blue took the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle Coeur Sublime looked an unlucky loser falling at the last. Tisamystery made it two wins in two years on St Stephens day by capturing the same race again. The day was a great day for our members. Glen Forsa 120 Kempton (7/1) Lake View Lad 210 Wetherby (5/1) Moskovite 235 Limerick (4/1) Tisamystery 255 Leopardstown (7/1) advised to our members in 0.25pt each way combination doubles all won. A profit of 79 points on the day.
Thursday, we start at Leopardstown. There was a dramatic finish to the beginners chase at Leopardstown with Real Steel crashing out at the last when upsides, leaving Paloma Blue clear to land the spoils. Paloma Blue was advised to our members (2pts win) at 4/1. British-raider Simply Ned continued his love affair with Leopardstown and gave Mark Walsh a treble on the card when the pair teamed up to take the Grade One chase. Reigning Arkle hero Footpad went off the even-money favourite and he jumped more fluently than when falling at Naas last month. He looked to have seen off his rivals when he put in a good jump at the last, however, he tied up on the run-in and Simply Ned (16/1) surged home to beat him by half a length. This gave Mark Walsh a treble in the first three races on the card. The other winners were Sir Erec and Paloma Blue. JP McManus had a battalion of runners in the Grade B Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown and it was his Auvergnat who delivered at 28/1.The eight-year-old gelding in first-time blinkers really relished the extended three-mile trip in this valuable handicap.At Limerick, Westerner Point landed the featured Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase for the second time at Limerick this afternoon. The Eoghan O’Grady-trained gelding won this €50,000 Grade B event in 2016, and regular partner Phillip Enright was again in the saddle.
At Kempton, Altior cruised to victory in the Unibet Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park to extend his unbeaten record over jumps to a remarkable 16 races.After defeats for high-profile stablemates Buveur D’Air and Might Bite 24 hours earlier, trainer Nicky Henderson was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief, as the 1-8 favorite cantered around for a routine success. Dynamite Dollars gave 5lb and a beating to Kalashnikov in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase. At Chepstow, Elegant Escape put up a classy staying performance to win the Coral Welsh Grand National. Sent off the 3-1 favourite, Elegant Escape barely gave his supporters an anxious moment, with Tom O’Brien enjoying an armchair ride from the start. Quel Destin dug deep to outbattle Adjali and take Grade One honours in the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle. At Wetherby, Cracking Find took the Castleford Chase.
Friday, we start at Leopardstown. Kemboy made it four victories in a row with a scintillating display in the featured Grade One Savills Chase at Leopardstown. David Mullins sent him the lead off a slow pace just before the halfway stage and the six-year-old gelding lobbed along sweetly. Monalee pressed Kemboy two out but he came under pressure turning in as Mullins still appeared to have plenty of horse under him. Once Kemboy cleared the last he asserted from the pursuers and hit the line seven and a half lengths to the good at 8/1. Monalee could make no impression in second at 11/2 while Road To Respect, who stumbled badly towards the rear after three out which saw him lose plenty of momentum, finished well for third (9/4f). I thought Road To Respect got a dreadful ride. I cannot understand what Sean Flanagan was trying to do. It looked obvious he should have bounced out he didn't and the incidents he attracted were of his own creation.
There was a double for Henry De Bromhead with Malinas Jack and Cuneo who took the Pertemps qualifier. Thermistocles advised to our members (1pt each way) 10/1 placed. There was a double for Gordon Elliott with Apple’s Jade ran out an easy winner of the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle, adding to last year’s success in the race. Gun Digger Completed the Elliott double. Gun Digger advised to our members (3pts win) at 3/1. The Church Gate took the handicap hurdle. Visioman 225 Leopardstown advised to our members (0.5pt each way) 25/1 placed (fifth special). It completed a great day for our members. Thermistocles 1245 Leopardstown 10/1 Visioman 225 Leopardstown 25/1 (fifth Special) both placed advised to our members 0.25pt each way double.
At Limerick, the feature race went to Espor D'allen for Gavin Cromwell who readily too care of Stormy Ireland. Annamix, favorite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for the past two seasons, suffered a shock defeat on his Irish debut at Limerick. The dogs had been barking about Willie Mullins’ grey last summer, but injury prevented him from making it to the track. He finally appeared in the Future Ticketing.ie Maiden Hurdle but had no answer to Jessica Harrington’s Press Conference (3-1), a spare ride for Niall Madden, who pulled away to win by two and three-quarter lengths. There was nothing stood out at the UK meetings for me.
Saturday, we start at Leopardstown. Sharjah claimed the feature race on the final day of the Christmas festival. Unlucky when falling in a Grade One at this meeting last year Sharjah (6/1) continued a great 2018, that had already yielded a Galway and Morgiana Hurdle, with success in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown. Following on from Small Farm, Pravalaguna, Castlebawn West and Good Thyne Tara, the Patrick Mullins-ridden Sharjah became a fifth Willie Mullins-trained winner on the day. Sharjah benefited from a patient steer, and he again displayed his potent turn of pace in the straight. The Susannah and Rich Ricci-owned Sharjah then led at the last before going on to dismiss Supasundae by three and three parts of a length. Pace-setting Tombstone (66/1) ended up a length and three parts back in third whilst favorite Samcro folded from the last to beat only one home in fifth. Supasundae was advised to our members (1pt each way) 6/1 placed (rule 4 deduction 10%). Delta Work supplemented his Drinmore win when leading home a Gigginstown House Stud 1-2-3 in the Grade One Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown. The Gordon Elliott-trained and Davy Russell-ridden Delta Work (4/7 into 8/15) jumped himself to the front at the third last. Mortal (8s into 7s) had every chance when not fluent at the last and Delta Work soon stamped his authority on proceedings to triumph by eight lengths. It was ten lengths then back to Blow By Blow in third.“He was probably lucky as Ben Dundee nearly brought him down early,” said Elliott.
At Limerick, Willie Mullins had a double with Small Farm and Pravalaguna. At Doncaster, Lady Buttons took the feature race in impressive style. At Newbury, there was a double for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty with Champagne Platinum and Champ. The Challow hurdle went to Champ who was impressive. It turned into a good day for our members. Lady Buttons 205 Doncaster (6/4) Champ 300 Newbury (5/4) both won advised to our members 2pts win double. At Kelso, there was a double for Lucy and Nick Alexander with Elvis Mail and Calvigny. There was nothing at Southwell
Sunday, we start at Haydock. A double for Venetia Williams with Cloudy Glen and Didero Vallis. At Taunton, there was a double for Paul Nicholls with Friend Or Foe and Posh Trish who made it two wins over Christmas. At Lingfield, Nicky Henderson was on target on the flat with Twist.