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Five to Follow Over Christmas

December 26th, the British call it Boxing Day, the Irish know it as St. Stephens Day, in racing terms, the day after Christmas is the equine equivalent of a demolition derby with seventy-six races, across eleven meetings, in the space of roughly five hours across Ireland and England. Even if you wanted to, having a bet in every race would require some sort of Christmas miracle. It is all about picking out the quality over quantity on packed race days like this, kind of like picking out your favourite sweets from the box of Celebrations and leaving the ones everybody hates. These are some horses you should certainly keep a close eye on over the festive period.

December 26th – Global Citizen – Unibet Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) – Kempton

Global Citizen was far too keen to do himself justice in his seasonal reappearance at Ascot in November but that effort was put firmly in the rear-view mirror when Global Citizen ran out an extremely gutsy winner of the Gerry Fielden Hurdle at Newbury. The Gerry Fielden Hurdle is a hurdle race open to second season hurdlers and has often thrown up very talented horses. Global Citizen was a winner of the Dovecote Novice’s Hurdle at Kempton last season which is the same course and distance as the Christmas Hurdle. One will assume Global Citizen will give this race a real go from the front. 14/1 is the current best price for Global Citizen and this represents sensational each way value this progressive six-year-old. You cannot talk about the Christmas Hurdle and not address the presence of the duel Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’air. Nicky Henderson’s star gelding winner arrives here looking for his second Christmas Hurdle. Although Buveur D’air is likely to prevail, that does not stop you in plucking some value out of the Christmas Hurdle and backing Global Citizen each way at a cracking price or backing Global Citizen without Buveur D’air or even backing Global Citizen just for a place.

 December 26th – Kruzhlinin – Totals Bookmakers Hunters Chase – Down Royal

Kruzhlinin may not be a betting proposition here but that should not stop you watching this Hunter’s Chase with a view to Hunter Chases at Cheltenham and Aintree down the line. Kruzhlinin left the Phillip Hobbes team for Gordon Elliott during the summer and in that time Kruzhlinin has returned to the Point-to-Point scene and won three minor races between the sticks. This shows us that Kruzhlinin retains plenty of enthusiasm after finishing last season pulling up in the Scottish Grand National in 2017. Until that run at Ayr, Kruzhlinin held his form quite well for Phillip Hobbs. Paul and Clare Rooney’s ten-year-old still boasted a handicap mark north of 140 over both hurdles and fences. Kruzhlinin is also built is big as they come and the twelve stone weight he will be burdened with in these Hunter Chases should be of no issue to him. This outing at Down Royal should be watched very closely. It would be naïve to think Kruzhlinin will be able to run to a mark of 140, otherwise he would be still contesting Saturday handicaps. However, hunters tend to go that little bit slower and Kruzhlinin should have the aid of a top amateur in Lisa O’Neill for this season. A decent jockey in these amateur rider races can be half the battle most of the time. Kruzhlinin can be found currently at 14/1 with William Hill for the Cheltenham Foxhunters in March.

December 26th Ballyandy – 32Red Download the App Handicap Hurdle – Kempton

Ballyandy appears to be returning to hurdling after a lacklustre year-and-a-half over fences. Kempton’s concluding race on the December 26th card is a 0-140 handicap hurdle. That means horses rated 140 are to carry 11st 12lbs. As a result, Ballyandy is due to carry a hefty 11st 12lbs. This class 3 handicap is the easiest opposition Ballyandy has faced arguably since his bumper days and off a mark of 142, he may well be difficult to stop. Some readers may remember Brain Power’s situation from last week. This is an extremely similar situation, Ballyandy is the best horse in the race and it is only a matter of rediscovering some of that hurdles form that saw him land a Betfair Hurdle and a very respectable fourth place finish in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2017.

December 26th Wakana – Racingtv.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase – Wetherby

A Wetherby regular at this time of year. Wakanda is set for yet another crack at the Rowland Meyrick Chase after finishing second in this heat for two consecutive years. Wakanda got caught right on the line in last year’s running by Get On The Yager, Wakanda followed up that effort by winning a decent three-mile chase at Doncaster. Wakanda returned to action this season with a quiet spin over hurdles, that run was fine and connections would have been content. You can count on Wakanda being trained to the minute for this race and this is very likely his season’s target seeing as how the majority of his best form is in the winter months. Wakanda will be in the thick of things at the business end here and barring a jumping error, Wakanda should be a lock to hit the first three at worst so exploring place markets may be an option here.

December 27th Arkwrisht – Paddy Power Chase – Leopardstown

This was a horse that many of us at BetHub were very keen on in the Troytown Handicap last time out. It appeared we were all going to get a real run for our money before a mistake down the back-straight brought Arkwrisht to a standstill, resulting in the eight-year-old pulling up. Arkwrisht has not been the luckiest of horses either. Last season, Arkwrisht was very badly hampered at the second last in the Irish Grand National when preparing to challenge for the lead. There is enough evidence from the Irish Grand National and his run in the Troytown (when he was very strong in the betting) to suggest he can go well in the Paddy Power Chase. Arkwrisht is a general 25/1 chance but Bet365 currently sit at 33/1 which is an absolutely ludicrous price. I struggle to envision even 20/1 being available on the day if you were only going to have one bet over this festive period, it would have to be Arkwrisht.

 Dec 26th

2:10 Wetherby – Wakanda – 1pt win @ 7/2 (General)

Note: observe place markets, even money on Wakanda may become available on the morning of December 26th

2:30 Kempton – Global Citizen 1pt ew @ 14/1 (Bet365, Bet Victor, Betway)

Global Citizen 1pt w/o Buveur D’Air – TBD (No bookmakers are currently offering this market, see BetHub on Twitter for this update)

3:40 Kempton – Ballyandy 1pt ew @ 13/2 (Bet365)

Antepost bets:

3:00 Leopardstown – Arkwrisht – 2pts ew @ 33/1 (Bet365)

Cheltenham Foxhunters Chase – Kruzhlinin – 1pt ew @ 14/1 (William Hill)

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