Slightly early, we know, but henceforth we will be targeting those races in which we have a strong view and ignoring those that we don’t. So there.
Action today from the meetings at Chepstow and Kempton and it’s to Wales we go first for the Coral Handicap Chase at 1.05.
Our primary selection in this is the Emma Lavelle trained Red Rookie, which should find this handicap a whole lot easier than when crossing swords with Edwardstone in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival last March.
This lightly raced 7-y-o has fallen in two of its last three chases but won the other one easily and, now in its second season as a chaser, can fulfil its undoubted potential. 4-1 is an attractive price.
We also give a squeak to Silver Hallmark, which had a warm up over hurdles in preparation for today. Rated 145 just five runs ago, the 8-y-o has clearly had its problems, but if anyone can iron them out, Fergal can and, off a mark of 141, is a bounce back candidate. Go each way at 10-1.
On to the Coral Handicap Hurdle at 2.10 which looks to have a stand-out runner in Just A Dime.
Ben Clarke‘s 6-y-o is a dual Irish Point winner which made a successful stable/hurdles debut in March, over a similar trip to today’s at Exeter.
Back from a break at the end of November, JAD finished a good second at Carlisle over an inadequate trip and now makes its handicap debut off a fair looking 119. Plenty more to come from this beastie and we recommend a fair bet at 4-1.
The Coral Welsh Grand National at 2.50 is next up, with a field of 17 standing their ground.
Favourite at 4-1 is Quick Wave from the Venetia Williams yard.
Just one run last season resulted in an eased down win at Ludlow and the next time this 9-y-o was seen was eleven months later in the London National at Sandown, which it won by an eased down 4 lengths under a motionless Charlie Deutsch.
The 4lb penalty picked up for that win leaves the horse 5lbs well in for future races and, although the mare has been difficult to keep sound, if all goes well she will take the beating this afternoon. Back her at 4-1.
Over at Kempton, we concentrate on just one race, that being the Ladbrokes Handicap Chase at 3.09.
This race was won last year by Five Star Getaway which is back for a repeat.
Careful planning by The Hairy Welshman has ensured that the horse can compete off exactly the same mark and, after two promising tune-up runs, a cunning plan can come to fruition. At 11-2 we suggest an each way thump.
That’s it – back on New Year’s Eve.
Red Rookie 1.05 Chepstow 2pts win @ 4-1
Silver Hallmark 1.05 Chepstow 1pt e/w @ 10-1 (4 places)
Just A Dime 2.10 Chepstow 1.5pts e/w @ 4-1
Quick Wave 2.50 Chepstow 2pts win @ 4-1
Five Star Getaway 3.09 Kempton 1.5pts e/w @ 11-2 (4 places)