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Five to follow on Boxing Day

Paul Ferguson has five selections for us on Boxing Day from Kempton, Wincanton, Leopardstown and Down Royal. View selections below

Kempton’s King George card could well turn in to a bit of a slog if the rain continues over the next couple of days and, in the big race, that ought to suit Long Run down to the ground (pardon the pun).  I suspect he maybe ridden more aggressively on Wednesday and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to winning ways, but at the odds I’d rather watch than play as it looks an open contest.

David Pipe will be hoping Grands Crus can return to form following a wind-op and, if that has done the trick, he looks the each-way value (10/1 at the time of writing) but it is a big “if” after disappointing runs in the RSA and Paddy Power Gold Cup.

He took the Feltham last year and Pipe can land back-to-back renewals as fellow grey Dynaste (2:00) ought to be tough to beat in his hat-trick bid, following impressive victories at Cheltenham and Newbury.

The six-year-old has looked a natural over fences to date and the form of his Cheltenham was given a big boost when Unioniste (3rd) landed a big handicap earlier this month.

The selection, who has won over this far over hurdles, handles soft ground and should land the odds under Tom Scudamore.  He is currently trading at 4/7 with Paddy Power and, given the amount of racing, is likely to form part of many people’s Boxing Day multi-bets.

Earlier on the card River Maigue will be short to land the opening novices’ hurdle for Nicky Henderson, but a chance is taken on hurdling debutant New Year’s Eve (12:50) who was the better bumper horse and can be backed at 11/4 with Hills.

John Ferguson’s four-year-old won his first two starts before chasing home Champagne Fever in the Champion Bumper, when he looked as though a sharper track would suit.  The son of Motivator failed to handle atrocious conditions at Punchestown and, while he may prove best on better ground, he should handle soft ground given his pedigree.

Down at Wincanton the competitive 2m6f handicap hurdle can go the way of Alan King’s Ardlui (2:15) who should relish the step up in trip, given the improvement he showed over staying trips on the Flat through the latest season.

The four-year-old, who gave Countrywide Flame (‘Fighting Fifth’ winner who runs in the Christmas Hurdle) at over 2m at Chester in September, handles testing ground and shaped well in a decent contest at Newbury earlier this month.

The winner At Fishers Cross defied a 9lb rise when following up at Cheltenham and, while Wayne Hutchinson’s mount has been handed an extra 3lbs by the handicapper, he remains fairly treated over hurdles on a mark of 128.  This sterner test of stamina should be right up his street and he remains unexposed over timber, after just five starts.

Over in Ireland, the opening day of Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting is an absolute cracker and the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase can go to Arvika Ligeonniere (2:55) who gets the vote over high-class hurdler Oscars Well.

The selection was impressive when landing the Drinmore Novice Chase (for this column) and Willie Mullins’ exciting seven-year-old can put himself right in the Arkle reckoning by making it three from three here.  The drop back in trip should not be a problem and his fencing can just edge things over Jessie Harrington’s stable-star, who has also looked good to date, bar one blemish when falling on his second start.  The selection was trading at 5/6 at the time of writing.

Finally, up north at Down Royal Fickle Fortune (2:30) should get off the mark at the second time of asking over timber.  Noel Meade’s smart bumper filly, who won on her debut here in February, chased home the potentially high-class Un Atout on her hurdles debut and she can confirm form over Totally Couture who finished third.

Boxing Day selections:
12:50 Kempton: New Year’s Eve (11/4 Hills)
2:00 Kempton: Dynaste (4/7 Paddy Power)
2:15 Wincanton: Ardlui
2:30 Down Royal: Fickle Fortune
2:55 Leopardstown:Arvika Ligeonniere (5/6 general)

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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:

  • SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
  • SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
  • CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
  • BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
  • MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
  • SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
  • FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
  • RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
  • AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
  • CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
  • PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
  • SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
  • TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)

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