Boxing Day just wouldn’t be the same without the feast of racing it delivers to fans of the sport of kings in both the UK and Ireland.
The King George VI Chase is the undoubted highlight, but with 11 cards on offer it is easy to get lost in the sheer amount of action to get stuck into.
You can catch five races live on Channel 4 from Kempton and Wetherby, and have a bet safe in the knowledge you’ll be covered by Ladbrokes’ offer that sees your stake returned as a free bet if your horses finishes second (excluding the 15:10 at Kempton).*
While that stipulation is helpful, we are hoping it won’t be needed for our trio of selections to bring some post-Christmas cheer.
Here’s who we fancy to deliver a late gift to punters up and down the land.
It’s paid to follow Colin Tizzard’s horses in the top races this season with five wins and one second from seven runners in Graded contests.
One of those successes came with Native River in the Worcester Novices’ Chase at Newbury when he came home in front of three previous winners over fences.
The form of both that race and his victory in his previous outing looks stronger than any of his rivals bring into this Grade 1 contest.
The manner in which he put both of those outings to bed certainly suggests there is more to come, and with conditions in his favour, we could well see that at Kempton.
Tizzard took this race in 2007 with Joe Lively and has saddled Third Intention to third on two occasions when relatively unfancied since, but this five-year-old looks capable of surpassing both of those over fences.
There must be something about Wetherby that Sue Smith’s charge adores, with four wins and two placed efforts from his seven visits to the Yorkshire track.
He returns on Boxing Day off the same handicap mark that he enjoyed when winning his last chase at Haydock, and was also a victor on this card 12 months ago.
Although he unseated at the Chair in the Becher Chase at Aintree earlier this month when well backed he is usually an assured jumper of his fences and can strike back over the conventional obstacles.
His stamina and ability to cope with cut in the ground is assured in what could turn out to be a bit of a slog over the three mile trip, but back at his favourite venue it’s worth having a punt on him returning to winning ways.
Runner-up over three miles in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham back in March, David Pipe has opted to drop his charge back in distance for his first start over fences.
That could be a wise decision from the Nicholashayne handler, with all three of the gelding’s hurdles victories coming over this sort of trip.
If the rain does fall and make it a stronger test of stamina than one might expect over this distance, you can be safe in the knowledge that the seven-year-old stays further.
While Barry Geraghty has opted to ride Full Shift of the two JP McManus-owned horses, it does mean that a partnership with Tom Scudamore, who was on board for his last win, can be restored.
A run over hurdles last month, while unimpressive, came at the time when the stable weren’t particularly firing on all cylinders, and he can be expected to be fully wound up for this.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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