In the 2.20 at Huntingdon on Thursday, Messire Des Obeaux carries a 10lb penalty for winning the Challow Hurdle at Newbury on New Year’s Eve, which could open the door for the progressive Keeper Hill. The Westerner gelding has won his last two starts over hurdles, both over 2 miles 3½ furlongs on soft going, and his most recent win has already been franked by the runner-up, Skipthecuddles. He faces far and away his most difficult task to date, but is open to improvement after just five starts in total and favoured by race conditions.

In the 2.50 at Huntingdon, Allee Bleue appeared to improve for the step up to 2 miles 4½ furlongs on heavy going at Leicester eight days ago and, while he drops back a furlong under less testing conditions, may be able to defy a 7lb penalty. Indeed, the Mount Nelson gelding is 3lb well in compared with future engagements, so his quick reappearance is no surprise.

In the 3.20 at Huntingdon, Johns Luck has won his last two starts by a short head and a neck, leaving the handicapper with little room for manoeuvre and, off a mark just 3lb higher, may be capable of completing a hat-trick. In fact, the 3lb rise is negated by Harry reed’s 7lb claim and he seems versatile with regard to underfoot conditions, so he has plenty going for him, despite the welter burden of 12st 2lb.

Selections: Huntingdon 2.20 Keeper Hill, Huntingdon 2.50 Allee Bleue, Huntingdon 3.20 Johns Luck, 1-point Win Patent

Having cruised to victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, Thistlecrack has now been handed the top handicap rating for a novice, with the eight-year-old rated at 171. Despite competing in just his fourth race over fences since making his debut back in October, the reigning World Hurdle winner swept aside stablemate Cue Card at Kempton, with his current ranking five more than Coneygree before his success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup back in 2015. Trainer Colin Tizzard will have undoubtedly been delighted with the performance of his prized asset, with Thistlecrack now expected to have just one more outing before the Gold Cup in March, with this likely to also come at Cheltenham at the end of January.

Ridden by jockey Tom Scudamore, Thistlecrack ran the perfect race at Kempton, pulling away from his more experienced competitors at the home turn, eventually overcoming Cue Card by a margin of three lengths. Scudamore was even surprised with such dominance, with the meeting between the two Tizzard-trained horses having gained much publicity in the build up to the race. Thistlecrack certainly justified his 11/10 pre-race odds and has now unsurprisingly been installed as the early favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 28th.

11-year-old Cue Card was bidding to win back-to-back King George VI victories, however it was Thistlecrack who came out on top in his first real test over fences. With the duo the two standout horses for the race, it came as little surprise that just five entries lined up at Kempton, with Thistlecrack never looking troubled. Tizzard is now 4/1 with Betway to come out on top in the 2016/17 National Hunt Trainers Championship, with Paul Nicholls the overwhelming favourite to defend his crown.

Meanwhile, Thistlecrack’s jockey  Scudamore is expected to be out of action for around seven days after a fall at Plumpton on Monday. The 34-year-old was on Bobbits Way for trainer Alan Jones in a two-mile handicap, when he fell at the 11th hurdle. Scudamore was due to be in action at Bangor this week for David Pipe, however fellow jockey David Noonan will now take his place.

Well this is certainly wacky races material and then some! Utterly bizarrely and yet stranegly entertaining at the same time. Well it is Japanese after all, so we should embrace the quirkiness. I’m reliably informed that this is an  animation rather than a video game. That’s a shame, as it looks like good fun!

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.