The festive period is one of the busiest parts of the national hunt calendar in horse racing. Not only are there a number of Grade One races in the UK, most notably the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, but there is plenty of high-class action in Ireland too.

Here are five tips to follow over Christmas which will hopefully give you plenty to cheer about during the holiday season.

Cue Card – King George VI Chase – Kempton – December 26

Cue Card is set to return to Kempton later this month where he will be defending his crown in the King George VI Chase. Colin Tizzard’s chaser was successful in this race 12 months ago when he just got the better of Vautour in a close finish on Boxing Day.


Cue Card” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

Just like in 2015, Cue Card goes into the Grade One chase with a chance of winning the £1 million bonus available to the connections of any horse which wins the Chase Triple Crown this season. The 10-year-old scored in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month and if he wins at Kempton, he will need to just be victorious in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival in March, as reported in the Oddschecker Cheltenham Festival Diary.

Cue Card defeated his nearest rival in the betting for the King George, Coneygree, at Haydock by 15 lengths. He was clearly much fitter than he was at Wetherby, where he could only finish third in the Charlie Hall Chase.

Although Coneygree will be expected to improve at Kempton on the back of his first run in nearly a year, it is difficult to see the former Gold Cup winner reversing the form with Cue Card in the King George, and therefore the defending champion should be backed at 13/8 to come out on top.

Thistlecrack – Kauto Star Novices Chase – Kempton – December 26

It looks like connections of Thistlecrack will opt for the Kauto Novices Chase on Boxing Day at Kempton rather than the King George. The novice chaser has looked flawless in his three starts over fences this season.

In his last run at Newbury, the 2016 World Hurdle winner landed a Grade Two contest in a step up in class. He went off at 1/8 in the betting where he made all to score by eight lengths ahead of Bigbadjohn and Ibis Du Reheu respectively.

The aim at the end of the season for Thistlecrack will be the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he is the 7/2 favourite so he should be able to prevail easily in this novice race, just like Coneygree did in 2014 en route to his Gold Cup success.

The New One – Christmas Hurdle – Kempton – December 26

At the start of this season The New One was set to be campaigned over fences. He was declared to make his chase debut at Exeter but the meeting was abandoned due to a frozen track. That then led to connections entering their horse in the Grade Two International hurdle earlier this month where he was successful by over three lengths ahead of My Tent of Yours.

His performance at Cheltenham has forced his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies to change his plans and the eight-year-old will now bid to win the Champion Hurdle in March. If he repeats his run in the International Hurdle, he could be good enough for this Grade One success at Kempton to enhance his claims for the 2m hurdle contest at the festival.

Carole’s Destrier – Welsh Grand National – Chepstow – December 27

If the Hennessy Gold Cup – check out some Gold Cup offers here – was run over an extra 100 yards than the 3m2f trip, Carole’s Destrier would probably have won the 2016 contest ahead of Native River as she was staying on really strongly at Newbury but had to settle for second place.

Chepstow Races” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by amandabhslater

Neil Mullholland’s chaser should relish the 3m5f trip at Chepstow for the Welsh Grand National, which is normally run on soft or heavy ground. She looks a real staying type and if successful in this contest, she is likely to be seen at Aintree, where she’ll be looking to complete the rare double in the world’s most famous steeplechase.

Djakadam – Lexus Chase – Leopardstown – December 28

Djakadam is arguably the most consistent 3m chaser in training today anywhere in the UK and Ireland. In his last nine starts, he has only once been out of the frame and that was when he fell at Cheltenham in the Cotswold Chase back in January.

Willie Mullins’ runner finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last March and will return to Prestbury Park again for the festival.

The seven-year-old was the impressive winner of the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown last weekend where he beat Black Hercules and Sub Lieutenant. Mullins’ horse could be set for a big campaign so he has to be favoured in a Lexus Chase which could include Valseur Lido and Many Clouds.

Heated irons, hair spray, backcombing and lack of sleep all take their toll on your hair.So what can you do to get it back to tip tip condition?

It is no secret that celeb’s worldwide are using Mane n Tail horse shampoo on their very own locks. Even the infamous Kim K stocks the bargain £7.50 item in her bathroom cabinet. How on earth did she uncover this beauty secret? She simply looked at some of the most stylish horses racing around the showground. In fact most of these horses have better hair than you. Here are the top 5:

  1. Maximus uses Rapunzels shampoo

This beautiful palomino horse is blessed with a chestnut base. It holds a cream gene which gives the creamy white mane.

  1. Kim K eat your heart out

Black beauty eat your heart out! There isn’t a fleek of dandruff in sight on this beautiful mare.

  1. Emo bangs on point

I can imagine this emo horse stays in its stable a lot listening to rock music and hating on its owners.

  1. Rasta horse

This gorgeous horse would not look out of place on a Caribbean beach.

 

  1. 80’s Barbie Babe

Barbie called, she wants her hair back!

Another example of a Palomino breed with chestnut coat and cream locks and not a bottle of bleach in site.

Welcome To Aintree – Grand National” (CC BY 2.0) by Paolo Camera

The national hunt season is now getting into top gear and with that upping of the ante will come the first murmurings of potential plots to land the Grand National at Aintree in the spring.

Winning the world’s most famous steeplechase does not come easy. It requires a lot of talent, luck and good timing – but perhaps more than ever, winning the Grand National requires months of careful planning too. Here are four potential contenders for ultimate glory in the world’s most talked-about horse race come 2017.

Don Poli

Now trained by Gordon Elliott having made the move from Willie Mullins’ yard this autumn, Aintree already looks to be the most viable spring destination for Don Poli. Third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup back in March, his no-show on his first start for Elliott at Down Royal will surely scupper any plans to head back to the Cotswolds for the Blue Ribband in 2017. Bad as his reappearance was, Elliott will surely get to the bottom of that run and bring Don Poli back slowly. Never the quickest horse, he has the jumping ability and enough class to suggest that four miles around Aintree would place him in a very positive light. If he makes the race, Don Poli will be hugely popular in the betting on the Grand National.

The Druids Nephew

Neil Mulholland’s charge has already had two goes at the Grand National with vastly differing results. In 2015, he was tanking along in the lead with five to jump when coming a cropper under Aidan Coleman. Many felt that run marked him out as a contender for 2016 but, in truth, his hopes this year were all but gone before the tapes went up. The rain that arrived to turn the Aintree track heavy in places did nothing for The Druids Nephew and he was duly pulled up having never appeared comfortable. It might be worth forgiving that run if he comes back for a third tilt in 2017.


Aintree Grand National 2013” (CC BY 2.0) by stacey.cavanagh

Holywell

Jonjo O’Neill’s dual Cheltenham Festival scorer, Holywell, was tipped by many for a big run around Aintree in the 2016 Grand National. Like many, the pre-race rain would have done little to inspire his supporters on the day of the race. Richie McLernon’s mount scarcely had time to settle to his task before taking a fall at the second fence. It was not the most encouraging start to his Grand National career but at nine-years-old the gelding has time to bounce back. Aintree on decent ground would surely give Holywell a chance to redeem himself.

Carlingford Lough

It really would be a treat to see Carlingford Lough pitching up in this race in 2017. John Kiely’s charge is already a multiple Grade One-winning chaser and owner JP McManus will surely be tempted to take a punt on the Grand National as the consistent performer enters the autumn of his career. Carlingford Lough has been touted for this race in the past but typically turned up at the Cheltenham Festival instead. There are many reasons to believe the Aintree test would suit Carlingford Lough, but none more encouraging than his Irish Gold Cup success in February. Scrimmaged along by Mark Walsh a long way out, Carlingford Lough appeared to gain new life over the last, with his stamina clear for all to see at the end of three-miles in soft ground. The Aintree marathon could be just the test for him.

newcastleThe Hardwick Hall Hotel Handicap (6.15) at Newcastle on Tuesday looks competitive enough, with plenty of recent form on offer, but Jaywalker is 2-2 on synthetic surfaces and may be able to defy a 3lb rise in the weights, despite taking a slight rise in class. The Footstepsinthesand gelding showed improved form when making all to beat Soul Brother and subsequent winner Manatee Bay by half a length and the same in a 0-80 contest over course and distance three weeks ago. That performance proved his effectiveness over 6 furlongs and on the Tapeta surface. It’s too early to draw any conclusions about the draw over 6 furlongs at Newcastle, but the first three in the race he won on his last visit were draw 11, 7 and 4, so stall 4 may not hinder his chance of a repeat performance under P.J. McDonald.

Selection: Newcastle 6.15 Jaywalker (6/1 with bet365) to win

racesThe hilariously funny images, videos and tales (if I do say so myself!) aspect of the wacky races blog has taken a bit of a back seat of late it has to be said. One or two of you have pointed that out recently, but at the same time we’ve also had a few submissions by visitors and so keep a look out for those over the coming couple of weeks. If you too happen to have anything you wish to contribute (anything from stories – your own or others, or media), feel free to click the ‘Links and Contact Info’ link at the top of the wacky races site and I’ll be sure to consider your submission for a future update. Don’t be shy, people!

‘So what have you been up to lately?’ you may or may not be asking yourself. Well, actually I went to the races a few weeks back. To be honest I more often than not tend to engage in the world of racing via couch potato mode, so it makes a change for me to actually get out there and make a day of it – or three days as it happens! I have to say that the only funny aspect of the racing bonanza (aside from Derek Thompson’s Alan Partridge-esque contributions on Ladies Day) was my inability to pick a winner! Though thankfully the trip did have ‘wacky’ covered, as I went to Great Yarmouth and there’s always a fair few characters around it has to be said – on the course and off! Afterwards we went to the local casino, which is in an attractive listed building. A nice meal was had by our gang and for the most part our luck was in, so the trip was well worth it. I really should get to more race tracks, but am something of a creature of habit and this is an annual trip that we’ve been making for about ten years now! Anyway, it’s time to get to the important stuff with this week’s horse racing tip! For otther future races check here http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb/betting/y/9/ap/Horse+Racing.html

Another week and so another selection for you all. We like the look of this one. In the 5.50 at Kempton on Wednesday, Pike Corner Cross is 2-2 over course and distance, in this grade, and still looks feasibly weighted in his attempt to maintain his 100% record. He never threatened from a wide draw at Lingfield last month, but ran as though still in form and, off the same handicap mark, can resume winning ways over a course and distance where he has from figures of 2211. His draw, in stall 14, is higher than ideal, but he made rapid progress in the closing stages to win on his previous visit to the Sunbury-on-Thames track when drawn 12 of 12. Indeed, he’s finished strongly on all four attempts over course and distance so, hopefully, Harry Bentley – who has a 3-10 (30%) strike rate for Ed de Giles this season – can deliver him fast and late to lift the spoils.

Selection: Kempton 5.50 Pike Corner Cross to win