My alter-ego Capt. Grinch was delighted for Bryony, pleased for Paul, and indeed was thrilled for Nigel Kent, but in the main he was unsurprisingly upset. Over in Ireland the surprises continued with Willie Mullins winning both G1 novice chases with his second strings in Franco De Port and Colreevy, his preferred winners (in market terms), Blackbow and Asterion Forlonges having crashed out. That said you’d have to be a brave man or woman to bet against a Mullins or Nicholls favourite in a G1, but that was Boxing Day for you and the surprise results were everywhere. Of course, there were lots of good horses who won – but it felt as though there were a hell of a lot more who didn’t. A few of the successes were unsurprising, in that with some thought, one could credit and understand the result. Sadly, for me and the banks, most of the results were simply bewildering.
I realised the train crash was in motion, when the first result of the day, the 11:50am from Wetherby was won at 125/1 for trainer Nigel Kent. The next four results were 9/2, 100/1, 25/1 and 5/1. Had you backed the field in all the first five races in an accumulator it would have cost you around £750,000. The return was ten times that. When you can make a profit by backing every horse in five races, you know the day is going to be crazy.
Later, at Ch. d’If, the night and the weather too was crazy, and it was not at all conducive to sleep. Howling gales and rain lashing the house, so I occupied myself with Admiral Lord Hornblower, (not a euphemism), and his time as C in C West Indies, and eventually dropped off. Sadly so did Chepstow and Limerick and they are calling Kempton Soft with some understatement.
ITV appears instead to have taken three races from Leopardstown and the 2:10 from Wetherby, in what appears to be a very tight broadcast schedule. My necessarily brief selections follow.
13:10 Leopardstown THE PADDY POWER REWARDS CLUB CHASE
If you can get 4s about NOTEBOOK in this you could mitigate any downside by going e/w. Given the course, small field and the ground, his form in winning the Racing Post Novice Chase at this meeting last year all suggests he has the beating of the odds-on CHACUN POUR SOI.
NOTEBOOK e/w at 4s (Win only at lower odds)
13:20 Kempton THE LADBROKES WAYWARD LAD NOVICES’ STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 1) (Grade2)
On yesterday’s form, you’d say back the outsider of four. I can’t do that, because I just don’t see SHISKIN getting beat. Equally the odds are too light.
13:45 Leopardstown THE PADDY POWER FUTURE CHAMPIONS NOVICES HURDLE
BALLYADAM is a best-priced 6/1 for The Supreme and that price will be much lower if he hoses this today – which I suspect he will. Gordon Elliott has always talked up this horse’s pace and speed and I’m the first to admit that his performance LTO was shy of his promised best – watch and learn, watch and learn. KESONRISK might be worth a small e/w consideration.
BALLYADAM Win – KESONRISK e/w
13:55 Kempton THE LADBROKES MARES’ HANDICAP HURDLE RACE (CLASS 2)
Ben Case runs two here, and thank God they’ve woken up to the fact that CODED MESSAGE is not a chaser. She won this last year, has got some half-way decent form. She has 132 and Son of Case claiming 7lbs so 20/1 is too good to miss. The consistent HOTTER THAN HELL has been backed this morning, and was a good 4th LTO which suggests he should be there or thereabouts
CODED MESSAGE e/w – HOTTER THAN HELL e/w
14:10 Wetherby THE WILLIAM HILL CASTLEFORD HANDICAP CHASE
NUTS WELL Win
14:30 Kempton THE LADBROKES DESERT ORCHID STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 1) (Grade 2)
I suppose the question is whether the presence of the 2019 Arkle winner DUC DES GENIEVRES is going to make a ha’porth of difference to ALTIOR’s winning return to action.? It won’t. ROUGE VIF might run better than price, given that Harry Whittington’s yard appears to be over the virus-or-whatever-it-was.
ALTIOR Wins – ROUGE VIF 2nd in SFC
14:55 Leopardstown THE PADDY POWER CHASE
MINELLA TIMES was 10s for this overnight, but has drifted to 12s. Sadly my greed on this occasion simply says, Yippee. The immeasurably talented Rachael Blackmore says he has stamina in abundance, and this 3m on yielding will suit. He’s not got many miles on the clock, and the ground won’t hold any fears. His OR of 136 puts him 6lbs shy of his last winning mark, but he looked in a good frame of mind when winning his seasonal debut some 90 days ago.
MINELLA TIMES e/w
15:05 Kempton THE LADBROKES WATCH RACING ONLINE FOR FREE HANDICAP STEEPLECHASE (CLASS 2)
CRIEVEHILL e/w – DOUBLE SHUFFLE e/w