Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas review

Kauto Star's victory in a fast-run King George was most impressive; many of his rivals were taken clean off their feet. Paul Nicholls was clearly pumped up afterwards and used the post-race interviews to make a couple of points. We won't see Kauto out again before next March while Denman has Newbury's Aon Chase as his target.

I'm not certain how much store to put by Breedsbreeze's victory in the Feltham. The six novices put in some very dodgy jumping between them, the winner and favourite being the best of a poor bunch on the day. Market rival The Market Man made an absolute howler down the back straight that put an end to his chance. I'm not tempted by 10/1 this winner for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham as I wasn't totally convinced about him getting the three mile trip and his limited chasing experience to date has come in small fields. Gone To Lunch, who won today at Newbury, is priced at 16/1 for Cheltenham; he may not turn out to be the best horse in the field but his jumping should stand him in good stead.

On Saturday I thought two starts were worthy of comment. At Chepstow the starter let the runners go off any old how in the Future Champions Hurdle while in the Castleford Chase at Wetherby there were at least two or three jockeys riding speedy sorts who looked determined to get a 'flyer' and practically had their mounts galloping as the tapes went up; 7/2 favourite Calatagan was over twenty lengths off the pace at the first turn!

Diamond Harry won today's Challow Hurdle at Newbury without being extended; connections may take in one more race at Cheltenham towards the end of next month before going for the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle at the Festival.

The prize awaiting the winner of the Weekender's Christmas crossword puzzle is dinner with Mick Fitzgerald. One thing is certain - should you win, you won't have to put in too much effort beforehand thinking about what you're going to talk about... Rumour has it second prize is a long weekend 'chez Fitz'.

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