Horse Racing Tips: Timeform’s 5 to keep onside for Christmas week

Keep your eyes peeled for these when you're munching that leftover turkey

Timeform

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*Odds quoted on some of the widgets are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.

Dec 26 Kempton: Kauto Star Novices’ Chase – Shan Blue

Few horses take to chasing like Shan Blue, who has posted two hugely impressive, wide-margin wins at Wetherby to fully earn a crack at this Grade 1 contest. Shan Blue showed promise over hurdles, producing his best effort last season when a well-beaten second behind Shishkin in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon, but he has proved a different proposition since going chasing.

He bolted up by 14 lengths on his first start over fences, impressing with how quickly he jumped, and he produced an even better effort to defy a penalty last time, routing his rivals by 16 lengths after attacking his obstacles with relish. He is very much one to follow over fences and his strong-travelling style and accurate jumping looks tailor-made for Kempton.

Dec 27 Leopardstown: Paddy Power Novice Hurdle – Ballyadam

The Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle was won last year by the Gordon Elliott-trained Abacadabras, breaking Willie Mullins’ stranglehold on an event he had won for the past four years. Elliott has an excellent chance again with Ballyadam, who earned the highest Timeform rating handed to a novice hurdler this season – 143P – when landing the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse last month, following in the footsteps of the same connections’ Envoi Allen.

Ballyadam, an expensive recruit from the pointing ranks, clearly has a huge reputation as he was sent off 4/1-on for his bumper debut last season. He suffered a shock defeat on that occasion but has not been troubled since, winning a bumper at Downpatrick by 18 lengths in March and then brushing aside a couple of promising types on his hurdling debut at Down Royal on his return in October.

The Royal Bond represented a big step up in class, but Ballyadam was up to the challenge, cosily fending off some more experienced rivals by a length and a half. Ballyadam wasn’t foot-perfect over his hurdles at Fairyhouse, but he is entitled to progress in that department as he gains experience, and the large ‘P’ attached to his Timeform rating indicates that significant improvement is expected.

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Dec 28 Leopardstown: Christmas Hurdle – Sire du Berlais

Sire du Berlais has won the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival for the past two seasons but is likely to have the Stayers’ Hurdle on his agenda this time. He’s certainly up to that level and may well have gone close had he taken his chance in the latest renewal – Sire du Berlais clocked a faster time than Lisnagar Oscar when winning over the same course and distance earlier on the card.

Sire du Berlais made a pleasing return to action when landing the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan last month, overcoming the drop back in trip to two-and-a-half miles, and he should improve for the outing and the stiffer test of stamina. The form he showed when winning his second Pertemps Final in March is the best on offer here, and he can show why he’s one of the leading fancies for the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Dec 28 Leopardstown: Savills Chase – Minella Indo

It could be a cracking renewal of the Savills Chase as the last two winners of the race, Kemboy and Delta Work, are set to lock horns, while Presenting Percy looked revitalised when winning at Thurles on his second start since joining Gordon Elliott. That trio have all shown top-class form but could prove vulnerable to a challenge from a new kid on the block in Minella Indo, who was among the best of a strong bunch of novices last season.

Minella Indo, a dual Grade 1 winner in novice hurdles, always looked the type to take well to chasing, and he was agonisingly denied a top-level triumph over fences when overhauled close home by Champ in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March. That looked like an extremely strong edition of the RSA, and the way Minella Indo powered through that race marked him down as having the tools required to reach the very top over fences.

He arrives at Leopardstown on the back of two effortless wins against inferior rivals and can make the required improvement to score at the highest level.

Dec 29 Leopardstown: Matheson Hurdle – Sharjah

Saint Roi is seemingly Willie Mullins’ number one hope for the Champion Hurdle and is likely to go off favourite for the Matheson Hurdle after finishing an encouraging second to the reopposing Abacadabras in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month. Saint Roi wasn’t seen to best effect in a messy race, losing his position at a crucial point after putting in a sticky jump at the second-last, and it’s not hard to imagine the impressive County Hurdle winner improving.

He will need to, though, if Champion Hurdle runner-up Sharjah brings his A-game on his reappearance. Sharjah perhaps hasn’t always got the credit his record deserves as he is a three-time Grade 1 winner and has won this race for the last two seasons. The concern with Sharjah is that he usually comes on for his first start of the season, but there’s no doubt that he has the best form on offer and looks a big price at 8/1.

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