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ITV coverage starts Monday in Ireland with the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle over 3m. SIRE DU BERLAIS looks like the one Irish challenger who might be able to serve it up to Paisley Park and Thyme Hill and should take some beating for Gordon Elliott and Mark Walsh. The Pertemps Final hero scored well on his return this term at Navan.
A tight handicap hurdle to sort out here over nearly 2m. THE RUSSIAN DOYEN had enough ability to finish fourth behind A Plus Tard in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham and while he’s over hurdles here if he is in that kind of form he might outclass this lot. Harry Cobden takes the ride for Colin Tizzard.
Now a handicap hurdle over 2m4f. ARCTIC LIGHT could be chucked in here for Thomas Mullins and JP McManus. This is a horse who has mixed hurdling and chasing and he has been off a higher mark in his time. He returned with a good second over an inadequate trip at Cork and if anywhere near his best will take some stopping with 11st 4lb.
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Another Irish Grade 1 here with the Savills Chase over 3m. DELTA WORK was well beaten on his comeback at Down Royal but might have needed the race more than others. He stays strong and is talented, as a fifth in the Gold Cup shows. In a tough event has fine eachway claims for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy.
A handicap chase over an extended 2m4f. This is tough with a load of horses who could suddenly burst into life. I’ll take a chance with DREAM CONTI who returned with a good third this season at Punchestown. He then pulled up at Navan after a mistake so I can forgive him that. He might have an eachway chance for Noel Meade and a jockey who takes off a useful 5lb.
A beginners chase here over 2m5f. Not the best race on earth. No doubt the one I can’t wait to see, though, is THE BIG GETAWAY, who didn’t jump well at Navan on debut but who is built to be a chaser as a huge beast. He did well when third behind Envoi Allen in the Ballymore at Cheltenham and should be up to this for Willie Mullins.
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