Where to Watch Racing this Week

December 05, 2017

- Grant Whittington

This week will see a number of race meetings across the UK, with 12 events scheduled across the length and breadth of the country between Wednesday and Friday.

As you would expect at this time of year, the majority of these are jump events, with eight hurdle or steeplechase meetings pencilled in at diverse locations such as Exeter, Leicester, Haydock Park and Newcastle.

So, if you’ve got some spare time this week, where are the places that you should consider watching racing? Here’s our pick of the best meetings and individual races, as well as the runners and riders who are likely to prevail.

Ludlow, Wednesday 6th December

We start on Wednesday, with an exciting, seven race jump meeting at Ludlow. This afternoon meeting includes a couple of standout races, including the Class 2 Alfa Aggregates Products Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.

This race has 11 listed runners, while the successful trainer can walk away with a cheque for £12,660.

There are a few contenders taking part in this race, which you would expect given that some of the best trainers in the UK are represented. One of these runners is Neil Mulholland’s mare The Wicket Chicken, who enters the race in great form having won three of her last four outings (three of which were over the hurdles). She also placed second at Cartmel over a slightly longer distance in July, having started as the narrow favourite at 5/4. She certainly has the stamina and the consistency to prevail, so we expect big things from her here.

Lucy Wadham’s Banjo Girl is another key contender, despite struggling last time out at Newbury last week. She did win in similar conditions over the same distance at Southwell on 21st November, however, and could well offer value to punters at Ludlow this week.

Our own pick is the five-year old mare Maria’s Benefit, which has been expertly trained by Stuart Edmunds. She’ll come in at slightly longer odds than her rivals, despite winning on her last two competitive starts over the hurdles at Newton Abbot and Sandown respectively. The win at Sandown also came over a similar length, while she vanquished a quality field of 12 at a starting price of 4/1.

Wincanton, Thursday 7th December

On Thursday afternoon, we travel to Wincanton, for a seven race jump meeting that includes a couple of genuinely enticing Class 3 contests.

The first of these is the intriguingly named Weatherbys General Stud Book Online Silver Buck Handicap Chase, which will run over a mammoth three mile, one furlong course. The winners prize here is £9,495, while 11 talented runners will compete for this cheque.

This will certainly be a difficult race to call, with no single runner likely to start in any great form. The standout name is the Fergal O’Brien-trained Jennys Surprise, with this nine-year old mare having at least won on her last steeplechase start at Uttoxeter in November. This race was also won over a similar distance and from a competitive field of nine, so she may well start as a narrow favourite here.

David Pipe’s five-year old gelding Daklondike may offer better value to punters, despite finishing fourth on his last steeplechase meeting at Chepstow. Prior to this, he did win impressively at Wetherby over a distance of three miles and 45 yards at the beginning of November, in a 10-strong field that was arguably stronger than his competition here.

We also like the look of the Class 3 Weatherbys Racing Bank Handicap Hurdle, which will take place over just one mile and seven furlongs and see eight runners compete. The winner here can claim £6,330, so it’s sure to be a keenly contested race.

The obvious favourite here is the eight-year old gelding Global Thrill, who has won three of his last four jump races while also placing second at Wincanton at the end of October. He certainly enters the race in excellent form, and will most likely start as favourite with the bookmakers.

Glorvina may represent a solid outside bet, with this three-year old filly having placed well in her last two outings at Leicester and Ffos Las respectively. Despite his inexperience, he’ll be more than competitive over this distance and could well challenge the leaders.

Sandown, Friday 8th December

 On Friday, there’s only one place to head to see racing, and that is the iconic Sandown. This six race jump meeting includes a superb Class 1 event in the form of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, where 12 runners will compete for a first prize of £17.085.

In truth, the Nick Henderson-trained On The Blind Side is the clear favourite here, with this five-year old gelding having won his two hurdle races to date. He won superbly from a field of 10 at Aintree on the 29th October, before prevailing over a similar length in a slightly less competitive race at Cheltenham in November.

If On The Blind Side doesn’t manage to win, it may well have something to do with the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Count Meribel. This five-year old gelding has placed in all seven of his races in 2017, improving gradually throughout the last 12 months and winning his final three hurdle outings at Carlisle (twice) and Ascot. Make no mistake; he has every chance of winning this race, and is more than equipped to cope with the distance and the quality of the field.

White Moon, trained by the excellent Colin Tizzard is also a sure-fire contender, and one has also won his last three hurdle races. The five-year old gelding was particularly impressive over the hurdles at Exeter in November, while he also prevailed at Wincanton over a similar distance at the end of October. This horse thrives in the type of good-to-soft conditions that we’re likely to see at Sandown, so he will push the two favourites exceptionally hard here.

In truth, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle boasts a high quality field, and the race will be difficult for punters to predict. It will be genuinely close, however, while the two mile, three furlong course throws up plenty of opportunity for twists and turns.

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