Horse Racing Tips: Frank Hickey’s Best Bets for December 26th in Ireland & the UK

Paddy's top trader Frank Hickey gives us the low down for a superb day across the tracks on December 26th.

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December 26th Racing Tips

12:30 Aintree – Riders Onthe Storm
12:35 Leopardstown – Mirazur West
13:05 Aintree – Making Headway (each-way)
13:20 Kempton – Giovinco
13:45 Leopardstown – Belgoprince
14:20 Leopardstown – Facile Vega
14:30 Kempton – Hewick

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

12:30 Aintree – Riders Onthe Storm

The Richard Hobson yard is in much better form this season than last. While he only had one winner in November he had six seconds and saw Fugitif take the December Gold Cup this month and had two seconds also.

Riders Onthe Storm won the Old Roan at this venue on his reappearance last season off a mark of 139 and sits 6lb lower now after his form completely tailed off after that. UK Champion jumps jockey Brian Hughes is booked and the potentially testing ground won’t be an issue for him.

12:35 Leopardstown – Mirazur West

Former promising bumper horse James’s Gate makes his first start for Martin Brassil and runs for the first time since third to Facile Vega in the Champion Bumper 18 months ago. King Of Kingsfield might run here off the back of a fine second in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.

Cleatus Poolaw is also entered for Gordon Elliott who chased Daddy Long Legs home – at a distance – last time out at Thurles. Both Mirazur West and Ballyburn have dual entries over 2m 4f on the 29th over 2m 4f and the former may end up being a Ballymore Novices Hurdle horse along with Predators Gold.

 

13:05 Aintree – Making Headway (each-way)

There’s a lot of rain forecast for Aintree over the next few days for this new meeting on December 26. Making Headway could have a solid each-way chance if he lines up in what could be a decent contest.

He is bred to be a stayer but after winning his point-to-point on his second attempt, he won as he did on his hurdles debut at Carlisle in October over 2m on heavy ground. The faster ground and a trip just shy of 2m probably weren’t ideal when he was second to Kamsinas at Haydock in a Grade 2 contest and the return to much softer ground should see him travel powerfully into the race and stay on better than most.

Kamsinas had earlier been second to Lookaway at Cheltenham in a Grade 2 race on decent ground and went one better at Haydock against Making Headway. Lookaway doesn’t really want heavy ground, despite running an excellent second in the Greatwood Hurdle.

Florida Dreams wouldn’t want bad ground either while Farren Glory could bid to win his second Grade 1 after his win in the Royal Bond Novices Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Jango Baie and Telherthename are closely matched on their run at Ascot.

13:20 Kempton – Giovinco

Everyone knows I love Giovinco and have backed him for the Brown Advisory Novices Chase at Cheltenham already. To my eyes, Lucinda Russell’s runner lost nothing in defeat at Sandown to Stay Away Fay in the Grade 2 Betfair Esher Novices Chase.

He was beaten by 1.5 lengths getting 3lb but that race would not have played to his strengths. He ran keenly the whole way and obviously met a bit of interference with the loose horse before the Pond Fence and a bigger field would help him settle a bit better as would a stronger pace that suits finishers, so it should be ideal for him.

This 3m around Kempton will really suit Giovinco and I just hope there is plenty of pace early on. He travels and jumps so well that even looking to the future and the Brown Advisory Plate the front runners like Stay Away Fay will have something to soften him up a bit trying to make all.

The French horse Il Est Francais has been all the range in the market and a lot of pundits have been alive to his chances. He could battle for favouritism on the day.

Hermes Allen was impressive on his chase debut at Newbury three weeks ago in a Grade 2 event over 2m 4f but doesn’t look to be crying out for a stamina test. He’s only running here as the Dipper Chase is gone now. Paul Nicholls had originally pencilled in Knapper’s Hill for this contest.

Willie Mullins’ Klassical Dream would be a fascinating runner. He was very good on chase debut at Thurles over 2m6f and his jumping was excellent. You’d imagine 3m around Kempton would be ideal and I’d be afraid of him if he lines up even if the Thurles race lacked any depth.

13:45 Leopardstown – Belgoprince

Belgoprince was running a huge race when making a mess of the last at Cheltenham at the November meeting, nearly coming down, losing all chance in a race won by Impose Toi. That was off his UK mark of 108 and Belgoprince was beaten a nose in this race in 2021 off 97.

He has improved plenty on the Flat this summer to suggest this mark is well within his compass. Impose Toi is likely to run in the Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday and another good display there would point to Belgoprince being a live candidate at Leopardstown on the 26th.

14:20 Leopardstown – Facile Vega

I was with Inthepocket, who misses out, and I thought he would be much closer to Facile Vega in the betting.

Facile Vega won’t have another re-match on his Navan run with Inthepocket, where he won that race well. I thought it was between those two so with Inthepocket absent, that leaves Facile Vega!

14:30 Kempton – Hewick

Gerri Colombe has been diverted to Leopardstown for the Savills Chase on the 28th so that could leave the race at the mercy of Allaho.

Willie Mullins’ charge will be tough to beat at his best but there was something about the reappearance at Clonmel that I didn’t love. He will likely improve plenty for that comeback win, but is short enough in the market.

Bravemansgame may have left his race behind at Haydock. I believe he ran there on owner’s orders, had a hard race and was disappointing. The winner that day Royale Pagaille needs a bog and while Shishkin is interesting, what sort of mood will he be in?

The Real Whacker needs to bounce back and came back sore from the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month. There is plenty of alternative pace angles if they all line up so he shouldn’t get a freebie up front.

Hewick might be worth a squeak at a nice price. He likes to be prominent, is a good jumper in the main and will stay. If the ground is good-to-soft it will suit him and there are question marks about all of these and he’s still only about to turn nine.

December 26th Racing Tips

12:30 Aintree – Riders Onthe Storm
12:35 Leopardstown – Mirazur West
13:05 Aintree – Making Headway (each-way)
13:20 Kempton – Giovinco
13:45 Leopardstown – Belgoprince
14:20 Leopardstown – Facile Vega
14:30 Kempton – Hewick

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

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