RACING NEWS: Where to watch racing this week

If you’re a fan of jump racing, you could be forgiven for thinking that Christmas is arriving early next week.

Of the 18 race meetings being held nationwide between Monday and Friday next week, 12 of them are jump events. Some of the most talented steeplechase competitors will be in action at these meetings, at a host of diverse locations from Exeter in the south to Ayr in the north of Scotland.

So, let’s take a look at some of the hottest races and the most likely winners from next weeks’ action:

Huntingdon, Tuesday 14th November

Huntingdon remains one of the UK’s most iconic race courses, and next Tuesday will see the venue play host to a six-race jump meeting of the highest calibre. The pick of the races here is the class 2, Molson Coors Michaelmas Handicap Hurdle, in which a total of 11 runners will compete for a healthy winners’ prize of £15,640.

Some of the UK’s most talented trainers will also be represented here, including Nicky Henderson (who has three runners in total), Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O’Neill.

In fact, Henderson’s four-year old gelding Call Me Lord is likely to start as one of the front-runners, having won his last three hurdle meetings and two so far in 2017. His last win came in similar conditions at Sandown in April, when he romped home in a field of 12 and at a starting price of 5/1. His odds will certainly have shortened by the time this race starts, however, and he’ll probably be the horse to beat.

For those in search of another contender, O’Neill’s six-year old Utility is a name that should pique some interest. After a difficult start to 2017, he won consecutive hurdle races in good conditions at Worcester, showcasing his true potential in challenging fields. So despite coming last in a field of six at Newbury last time out, he definitely has the pedigree to challenge. The good-to-soft conditions could pose an issue, of course, while the gelding’s inconsistency may also deter some punters from backing him.

Ayr, Wednesday 15th November

The pick of Wednesday’s meetings is probably at Ayr, where seven afternoon jump races are scheduled to take place.

We’ll certainly be watching the class 3, Racinguk Handicap Chase at 15:10, which will feature eight runners and a gruelling, three mile course. The winner will also walk away with an impressive £7,798, which will be richly deserved given the length of the course and the likelihood of heavy conditions.

In terms of the runners, Nick Alexander’s eight-year old gelding Gold Opera is likely to start as the favourite with the bookmakers. He’s won his last two meetings over the hurdles, including an impressive triumph at Newcastle in similar conditions and over a two mile, four furlong course. He also won comprehensively last time out in Ayr, albeit in a restricted field of three and at a starting price of 4/6.

Elsewhere, the David Pipe trained Saint John Henry may also be coming into form at just the right time for this race. While he disappointed over the hurdles at Warwick and Southwell earlier in the year, he stunned a field of 12 by romping home at Chepstow at the end of October. While the conditions here were good-to-soft, he started that race at 25/1 and clearly has the ability to compete over a challenging, three mile hurdle course.

Ludlow, Thursday 16th November

Another day, another jump event, with a six race meeting at Ludlow capturing our attention on Thursday. There’s a couple of enticing class three meetings scheduled here, so there should be plenty to keep even the most discerning race goers occupied.

Take the Injured Jockeys Fund Christmas Cards Handicap Chase, for example, which covers a distance of three miles and one furlong and is set to feature 15 runners. The winner will also claim a total of £9,747, so it’s sure to be a keenly contested and exciting race.

Every race has a front-runner, however, and Paul Webber’s seven-year old gelding Copperfacejack has earned this moniker here. He’s won his last two steeplechase races, at Towcester in October and more recently at Taunton at the beginning of November. Although these wins came in slightly better conditions to what he should expect in Ludlow, he succeeded in competitive fields and over course in excess of three miles.

Charlie Longsdon’s Aunty Ann should push Copperfacejack close, however, having placed in the top four in each of his last hurdle meetings and won last time out at Worcester. This impressive triumph came in a competitive field of nine, while at a starting price of 6/1 he offered considerable value to punters and may well do again here.

The other stand out race here is the Racing Uk Hd Introductory Hurdle, where the Dan Skelton trained Free Range will start as the clear favourite. He was hugely impressive when winning at Fakenham last time out at the beginning of the month, and it’s hard to see him being stopped even in a competitive field of 18.

Hurdle races are unpredictable affairs, however, and there are several horses in this field who could upset the odds. Take Fergal O’Brien’s intriguingly named Creevytennant, for example, who at 13 has the experience and the pedigree to spring a surprise. He’s also in good form too, having placed in his last five steeplechase outings and won two of these. He was particularly impressive in his victory at Perth in August, where he prevailed in challenging, good-to-soft conditions and in a bustling field of eight runners.

From a form perspective, it’s also hard to discount Kim Bailey’s six-year old gelding Cresswell Legend. This horse delivered an exceptionally performance to win over the hurdles at Ludlow last month, fully justifying his 9/2 starting price and vanquishing a field of 12 in the process. While odds will probably be shortened a little further for this meeting, he’ll still offer excellent value and could well compete aggressively in a three-way battle for first place.

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