Where to Watch Horse racing this Weekend

December 29, 2017

- Grant Whittington

While Christmas Day may have come and gone, the festive spirit remains strong across the UK. After all, thousands of families are enjoying spending time together as 2017 draws to a close, while the New Year will also bring continued celebrations and a renewed sense of optimism.

As you would expect, the horse racing season will also continue in earnest this weekend, with a total of 10 meeting scheduled between Friday and Sunday.

In this post, we’ll review the best meetings and races from this period, while looking at the runners and riders that are likely to prevail.

Doncaster, Friday 29th December

We start with Doncaster on Friday, with the Yorkshire town set to host an intriguingly named Twixmas Raceday. This special jump event, sponsored by Sunbets, will feature seven fascinating races, including the hotly anticipated Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase.

This Class I race has an available winners’ prize of £28,475, with just four high quality runners competing to be first past the post.

The early favourite here is Antartica De Thaix, which is priced at 2/1 and enters the race in excellent form. The seven-year old mare won three consecutive steeplechase meetings in the spring of 2017, while she also finished second at Market Rasen over a similar distance last time out. This excellent run came in a competitive field of six, so she definitely represents a solid each-way bet here.

If you are looking for an outside bet, Tom George’ Song Saa represents excellent value for money.  This seven-year old mare is always a solid contender and has placed in each of her last seven outings, including a superb win at Leicester in February and a second place finish at Worcester in November. She can be backed at 10/1 here, but these odds are likely to shorten in the next 24 hours or so.

Leopardstown, Saturday 30th December

We travel to Leopardstown in Ireland on Saturday, when this picturesque town will host seven stellar jump races. This includes three Class I races, in which some of Ireland’s most talented runners will compete for significant prizes.

The pick of these races is the Grade I, Ryanair Hurdle, which will see a select field of five runners compete for a first prize of €59,000.

The overwhelming favourite here is Faugheen (2/9), with this nine-year old gelding boasting an incredible 13 wins from 14 jump outings throughout his career. This includes a comfortable win last time out in last month’s Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, where the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner made a spectacular return after a two-and-a-half year hiatus.

Still, the Willie Mullins-trained gelding may face some stiff competition in the form of Cilaos Emery, with this five-year old gelding a talented stable mate of Faugheen. While he’ll start at 6/1 for the win, he recorded an impressive triumph at Punchestown back in April and could well make this is a keenly-contested race.

He certainly represents a solid each-way bet, particularly with Faugheen offering so little value as the outright favourite.

Newbury, Saturday 30th December

We close with a seven-race jump meeting at Newbury on Saturday, which features several high quality races that are likely to take place in heavy, unforgiving conditions.

The pick of these races is likely to be the Class 1, Grade 1 Betfred Challow Novices’ Hurdle. This race will see up to 13 runners compete for a first prize of £22,780, while there is a total prize fund available of around £40,000 for the top six to share.

Kilbricken Storm is likely to be a key contender here, with this Colin Tizzard-trained gelding having won his last two hurdle races. The six-year old was particularly impressive at Cheltenham last time out, where he romped home over a similar distance and underlined his credentials as a tremendous hurdle prospect.

Another strong runner is Joseph O’Brien’s Us And Them, as this four-year old gelding will enter the race in exceptional form. He stunned a competitive field of 23 to win at Cork from a starting price of 10/1 in November, for example, while he also triumphed in heavy going at Punchestown last time out.

Given this, he’ll be a strong contender at Newbury this weekend and is likely to be there or thereabouts when the race enters the final straight.

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