Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
Altior was cut to 4/6 (from 5/4) for the Queen Mother Champion Chase following his comprehensive win in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on Saturday. Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old remains unbeaten over jumps and does not need to improve on Saturday’s performance to win at next month’s Festival.
Last year’s Gold Cup third Native River made all to win the Denman Chase with something to spare and is 5/1 (from 8s) for next month’s renewal, whilst Betfair Hurdle winner Kalashnikov is 10/1 (from 20s) for the Cheltenham curtain raiser after his fluent success.
Our selection Coeur Blimey was backed from 25s to 14s and rewarded each way support but he has to learn to jump to fulfil his potential. I also wonder if the time is right for a change in the saddle.
Plumpton are due to race on heavy ground this afternoon and there is a valuable Novices’ handicap Chase sponsored by the excellent racing journalist David Ashforth and friends. Course winner San Pedro De Senam jumped out to the left in a similar contest at Wincanton earlier in the month and a return to a left-handed track will suit.
Holbrook Park (2.50) has been pulled up in his last three starts but he is a better horse going left-handed and he might be overlooked in the betting given the recent letters next to his name. The selection was pulled up in a better race than this over three miles at Huntingdon on Thursday, but was bang in contention with half a mile to travel. Today’s drop back in trip should suit.
Gary Moore saddles two in the following handicap hurdle and Jamie Moore is jocked up on both at the time of writing! I hope he prefers Justification (3.20) who finished third at Wincanton last time and won from this mark at Sandown last February. Stablemate Graasten has gone well fresh in the past and the betting should provide valuable clues as to his well-being on his belated reappearance.
Ramore Will is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time and drops in trip for Chris Gordon who has his team in good form. He must go close but recent C&D winner Le Coeur Net (3.50) is taken to follow up from an 8lbs lower mark with Aidan Coleman taking over in the saddle from Noel Fehily.
Cheque En Blanc has every chance in his hat-trick bid but Somerset Jem (4.20) has been knocking on the door of late and can go one better than when second at Taunton earlier in the week. Conor Smith is back in the saddle claiming 5lbs and he can reward each way support in a competitive staying handicap race.
Holbrook Park 8/1
Somerset Jem 4/1
Catterick are optimistic they will pass their 8am inspection where Jack Devine (2.00) a winner of three Irish points steps up in trip in a first-time tongue-tie for Rose Dobbin. This four-runner race will not take much winning although Luckime looks a threat for Venetia Williams, stepping up in distance having stayed on dourly when third at Ludlow last time.
I am quite keen on the chances of Aaron Lad (2.35) who travelled wide when runner up in a Sedgefield Novice Hurdle at this trip last time. He has been dropped 3lbs for that effort which was his best since joining Dr Richard Newland and he looks on a fair mark to my eyes.
The form of the Rebecca Menzies yard is a concern but Nortonthorpelegend (4.05) has been given a seven-week break since disappointing last time and has run some good races here in the past although he disappointed in this corresponding race 12 months ago from a 7lbs higher mark.
Jack Devine 7/4
Aaron Lad 3/1
Crown Walk (5.10) is not one of the stable stars but made an impressive enough debut for Charlie Appleby at Chelmsford last month and can take today’s step up in trip in her stride at Wolverhampton.
Haines (6.40) won the valuable 2mile handicap from a 2lbs lower mark last year for Andrew Balding and looked to be coming to hand when runner up at Kempton last time. Former Chester Cup winner Suegioo returned to form over C&D last time but is an out-and-out stayer and may need an end-to-end gallop to be able to pick up the pieces.
Crown Walk 2/5