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Wednesday 24 December 2014

Christmas KISS under the mistletoe

KISS: "Keep It Simple (Stupid)".
That's the motto for Boxing Day - with 79 races in Britain and Ireland between 12:10 and 4:45pm there is no need to make things complicated. As I explained to a young friend earlier this week, a successful double with both selections at 2/1 returns the equivalent of an 8/1 winner - and on a day like Boxing Day it is probably easier to find a couple of 2/1 winners than an 8/1 winner.

I'm looking to place my annual Boxing Day "Yankee" - 4 selections in a combination of wagers - and if I can find 4 winners at odds of 2/1 then I'll be a happy man on Boxing Day evening. There are jump race meetings at Fontwell, Huntingdon, Kempton, Market Rasen, Sedgefield, Towcester, Wincanton and Wetherby here in the UK; and I'll be concentrating my efforts on winner finding on those.  It can really help to find winners on busy days like this if you concentrate on the entries of the trainers and where they are sending horses, and where the best jockeys are riding - they will not all be at Kempton!

The meeting at Wetherby has one of my favourite races of the season on Boxing Day: the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase over 3m1f at 1:45pm, this year generously sponsored by William Hill. The fav will likely be last Saturday's winner Broadway Buffalo. Personally, I felt that race was presented to him on a plate as the early leaders went off far too fast. As such, I will be opposing him. The obvious candidate is Cape Tribulation who has been dropped to OR142 (he was rated OR165 when 5th in the 2013 Gold Cup won by Bobs Worth) and has a great chance is able to repeat last seasons effort when 3rd off OR153. However, I reckon a better chance is held by Vintage Star who ran well enough LTO when 3rd (with Broadway Buffalo behind), and will appreciate a strong pace (supplied by Corrin Wood) and also stays very well. Odds of 8/1 with Paddy Power look generous.
Keep an eye on Superior Fire in the opening race at 12:35 as this is the only runner her for Charlie Longsdon. Later in the afternoon, the useful chaser No Planning makes a belated seasonal debut in a handicap hurdle off a rating 15lb lower than his chase rating. Finally, Caroline Bailey has done well here in the past and sends out only 3 horses on Boxing Day; with a couple coming here including Galway Jack in the handicap chase at 2:55pm. He comes here in the form of his life and should run well.

This meeting has another good stayers' chase in the Lord Stalbridge Memorial Cup (Handicap) at 3:25. On the face of it, this looks a winning opportunity for the top-weight Saroque, who struggled on the soft/heavy ground at Sandown LTO. The main opposition will likely come from the Paul Nicholls trained Buck's Bond, but his jumping has let him down recently; even so he is a C&D winner. The only other interesting horse in this race is Harouet from Peter Bowen's stable. This is the sort of race he does well in and he's sure to come on for his recent run and I can see him taking 2nd or 3rd (he's currently offered at 14/1 with Paddy Power).
The 2-mile class 3 handicap chase at 1:05 looks a wagering opportunity, but I've not looked at the form yet as none of the trainers with a horse entered has an above-average strike-rate here. I may look at this on the morning of Boxing Day.

There are some trainers with entries here that have great strike-rates: McCain (28%), Jefferson (23%), Swinbank (22%) and Richards (21%). However, the race that grabs my attention is the 2:30 - a 2m4f class 4 handicap chase with just 6-runners. The likely fav is Cango who won easily LTO and has just a 7lb penalty for that win. That was over just 2-miles, but he's expected to stay this 2m4f trip and more. No such worries about the trip with King Rolfe, who is travelling from south Wales (279 miles) for Tim Vaughan. He also looks a much better horse than his rating and also won easily LTO.

This looks an ordinary meeting on paper, so that trainers like Kim Bailey, Tim Vaughan and Venetia Williams are sending solitary horses here is interesting. As such, pay attention to Bailey's Gaelic Myth in the 1:00pm; for sure, Gifted Island (sent by Tim Vaughan) should be on the shortlist for the "bumper" at 3:15pm (Vaughan has won 3 bumpers from 8 runners here); and Venetia Williams' Art Professor may be making a belated chase debut (he turns 11yo on 1st January) but stable jockey Liam Treadwell has been booked for the ride.

This meeting is all about the King George VI Chase at 3:10, and from my point of view it is very difficult to see past the fav Silviniaco Conti. This trip will suit him well (he won this race last season) and having Cue Card in the race to likely set a strong pace will mean the race is run to suit as well. If Champagne Fever was not running, "Conti" would be the 6/4 fav, and if (as I reckon) Champagne Fever is only as good as his official rating of OR158, then 5/2 about "Conti" is a real Christmas present. I expect Menorah to follow the fav home and fill the 2nd-spot.
The rest of the meeting should be dominated by the short-priced fav's.

Market Rasen
There is a good class 3 novice chase at 1:30pm that looks competitive, but it is the 3m5f Lincolnshire National at 2:10 that takes my eye. There are a couple of non-runners so only 7 go to post, and I cannot see the race-fav Many Stars staying this extreme trip (he didn't when tried over 3m6f at Sedgefield in October). The obvious formbook winner is Chac Du Cadran who was rated OR126 after winning over 3m6f at Catterick in Jan13, but he's an odd character who needs to be cajoled along and I'm hoping the use of 1st-time blinkers will do the trick. There is nothing else in the race likely to trouble him and he'll have another proven front-runner with him in Carli King.
Trainer Dr Richard Newland does well at this track and he has only one runner: Aficianado in the 3:20. He looks well capable of improving on his recent LTO win (he's only a 4yo) and the others all look held. The only one that may do better is Ourmanmassini but he needs to recover his old form.

I will be surprised if Meetmeatthemoon does not win the 12:55pm for trainer Phil Hobbs as this is his only runner here today and he's won with 9 of his last 32 hurdlers here. I'm more interested in Major Milborne in the hurdle at 1:30pm as he looks well capable of winning off todays OR115 rating, and he comes here with a win LTO just last week. The only doubt is the heavy ground, but he acts well enough on soft to suggest it wont trouble him.

Nothing here catches my eye, with the 5-runner chase at 2:25 looking very tight.

Short-list for the "Yankee"
Market Rasen 2:10 CHAC DU CADRAN
Market Rasen 3:20 AFICIANADO
Sedgefield 2:30 KING ROLFE
Wincanton 3:25 SAROQUE
Wetherby 1:45 VINTAGE STAR
Wetherby 2:55 GALWAY JACK
Fontwell 1:30 MAJOR MILBORNE

Boxing Day YANKEE
Market Rasen 2:10 CHAC DU CADRAN @ 100/30 (available generally)
Market Rasen 3:20 AFICIANADO @ 9/4 (Bet 365, 2/1 elsewhere)
Sedgefield 2:30 KING ROLFE @5/2 (Paddy Power, 9/4 elsewhere)
Fontwell 1:30 MAJOR MILBORNE @ 9/4 (Stan James, elsewhere 2/1)
£2 win yankee, that's 11 bets totalling £22

Boxing Day eachway Double
Wincanton 3:25 SAROQUE @ 7/2
Wetherby 1:45 VINTAGE STAR @ 7/1
£4 eachway double = £8

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

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