It’s Christmas. A time of peace, goodwill and harmony. Someone said that. I’m here to tell you it’s all about top-class racing. Also darts. Mustn’t forget the darts. You will have to make up your own minds about the PDC World Championship. You may also choose to make up your own minds about the best horses to back over a packed horse racing schedule. Here are five steeds for your yuletide consideration anyway.
A couple of mouthwatering novice chase contests in store on the 26th. The first of those is at 2.20 pm in Leopardstown. Fakir D’oudairies and Laurina, currently vying for Arkle favouritism, look set to line up. Fakir is greatly respected with his four-year-old allowance. His electric jumping has been the most notable feature of two wins this season. Laurina, receiving a mares allowance here, put in a polished display on chasing bow in Gowran.
The bookies are well aware of their respective credentials. This has led to Notebook going in a big price to my eye. This horse was a decent novice hurler but jumping fences has been the making of him. He looked to score with plenty in hand last time up. Another step up is required here. I’m very hopeful he can take it. 8/1 looks to underestimates that possibility.
It’s almost straight to another tasty novice chase clash in the 2.40 pm Limerick. Faugheen and Samcro look set to duke it out here. In this case I find it hard to see anything else winning. Paddy make Samcro favourite. That makes sense. Whether the gap between the two should be so wide is another matter. Faugheen has come to fencing very late in life. In the main he jumped well on his seasonal comeback in Punchestown. He certainly looked happier than when trying to clear hurdles the previous season.
He showed the engine remains in good working order by winning comfortably despite one very bad blunder. I would be quite confident we will see a clean round this time. Samcro travelled beautifully in the Drinmore. It’s impossible to say what would have happened had he not fallen. His supporters were entitled to feel aggrieved all the same. I still have reservations about what he will find off the bridle. Heavy ground, and an on song Faugheen should result in us finding out. I’m happy to take 11/4 about ‘the machine’.
The 10th of November saw a cruel dip in my punting fortune. Hoping for some Christmas redemption. The first blow that day was the fall of Bay Ambition. She jumped and travelled beautifully until diving at the second last. Given how strongly she stayed on when winning her previous race, I think she would have gone on to win. It was a cruel fall and may leave a mark. Hopefully a seven-week break will have restored her confidence. If it has, off a mark just one pound higher than Navan, she looks banker material in the 2.05 pm Limerick.
That day at Navan also saw me take a punt on The Moyglass Flyer defying inexperience and an absence. A notable pre-race drift had me fearing the worst. When he loomed up on the bridle between the last two flights I got very hopeful. Sadly, a succession of jumping errors and a possible lack of fitness saw him run out of it late on. It was slightly disconcerting to see the second that day beaten next time out. A couple of others from the race have gone in since though. I’d say it’s solid form for the grade. The Flyer will need to sharpen up his jumping. That’s highly likely given the hotel he resides in. He’s a horse who could easily have a stone in hand. He’ll take plenty of stopping in the 2.20 pm Leopardstown on the 27th.
Also on the 27th we have the Paddy Power Chase. It’s obviously tricky but we should try to relieve the sponsors of more money. Whisperinthebreeze will carry my cash. This horse won a valuable handicap in Leopardstown earlier this year. He hasn’t won since but has run some good races. I think his last run was better than it looked. He got hooked into a duel that day.
Both horses fell in a hole late. It’s likely they simply went too hard, too soon. The bookies may have taken that run too literally. He’s only six and could have a few pounds in hand. The weather looks set fair and he should get a decent surface to run on. The 16/1 looks a bit big. He’ll probably be that price on the day so perhaps waiting for some extra place largesse from Paddy is the best play.