For late Christmas shoppers the Saturday before the big day is always a major moment – the afternoon Paddy can be made to pay for all our presents next week. You hear me, Paddy?
Let’s start off with the Tommy Whittle at Haydock (2.05), and this contest gives the Sue Smith-trained FILL THE POWER a great chance of doubling his Wetherby tally. Fill the Power strays strong and goes in heavy, plus he has dropped a few pounds in the handicap and ran well last time. He’s got plenty going for him.
Next up on TV is the 2.25pm at Ascot, which is the Long Walk Hurdle. This year’s renewal is not strong, and the conditions are absolutely right for REVE DE SIVOLA (pictured) to bounce back to winning form. He’s likely to pop out in front and while on form he is well held by Zarkandar I think he can win this for the third year in a row.
The 2.40pm at Haydock is a handicap hurdle, and it’s hard to say anything stand out on form. I’m with RUN RUCTIONS RUN, who ran well at Haydock last time and has a touch of class. James Reveley is riding well and hopefully he will make the frame at the very least.
A tricky 3m handicap chase faces us at 3pm at Ascot, and Houblon des Obeaux will be popular after a fine second in the Hennessy.
I like THE YOUNG MASTER, who is up 14lb despite being disqualified from action at Wincanton last time. Some of these are out for form and this horse is an improver, so hopefully he can defy the rise in the handicap and give some compensation for Neil Mulholland.
Finally on TV the big 2m handicap hurdle of the day is at 3.30pm at Ascot, and the improver I like here is SHELFORD, who has gone from 127 to 135 after two wins at Chepstow. This is a prominent runner for Dan Skelton who should keep out of trouble. He was a decent Flat horse who stays strong and might be a tough nut to crack.
So best of luck and let’s hope for plenty of Christmas Yeeehaaa! Indeed, let’s wish Paddy a Merry Christmas by taking his cash!