RacingFM’s Christmas Crackers Part 2
Yesterday we brought you through the first collection of Christmas crackers coming up on St Stephens Day/Boxing Day. So now lets look further ahead into the festive action, where more top notch action awaits us.
5. Mountainous looks to defend the Welsh National
Stamina will be the name of the game at Chepstow on Saturday, with lung bursting 3m5f Coral Welsh National up for decision. Richard Lee has been the man to follow in recent years, with Le Beau Bai taking the prize in 2011 and Mountainous toughing it out last year.
The latter is back again to defend his title and he will be joined by 2012 winner Monbeg Dude in what should be a cracking renewal. Cheltenham Festival runner-up Shotgun Paddy currently heads the weights and the market for Emma Lavelle but the likes of Midnight Prayer, Benvolio, Amigo and many other dour stayers will make sure this will be one of the most open National’s in quite some time.
6. Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase and Future Champions Novice Hurdle
The feature races at Leopardstown on Saturday, with the Dial-A-Bet Chase up first, won in the past by the likes of Big Zeb and Sizing Europe and last year by Benefficient. So the prize has stayed in Ireland for as long as memory serves but the home team may have a fight on their hands this year, with Alan King sending over the impressive Uxizandre.
The Shloer Chase winner has aspirations of being a Champion Chase contender this season, so he will have to prove his credentials here against a raft of experienced Irish challengers. Ballycasey heads the home contingent for Willie Mullins and will be joined by the likes of Hidden Cyclone, Sizing Europe and Mallowney. Simply Ned is another to represent the British raiding team.
Willie Mullins is responsible for an amazing eight of the current seventeen runners in contention to run in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle, again showing the plethora of talent at his disposal. Douvan and Nichols Canyon are probably the pick but anyone of the eight are potential winners. It is just a matter of who turns up!
British raider Commissioned could also have a say, while Tony Martin’s Golantilla is another interesting entrant. This race has really lived up to its name in recent times, with the winners list including Hurricane Fly, First Lieutenant and Jezki, so can we unearth another gem in 2014?
7. Is there another dramatic Desert Orchid Chase on the cards?
Last season’s renewal was full of drama. It had been billed as a showdown between Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy but, unfortunately we never got what was promised with Sprinter Sacre pulling up with his now well known heart problem. Sire De Grugy went on to win easily before heading to Cheltenham and adding the Champion Chase to his bow.
Both those top class 2 milers are missing this season which takes away the spotlight slightly but we still should be in for a cracking renewal with some of the new kids on the block, Vibrato Valtat, Balder Succes and Hinterland among a talented field of eight set to go to post.
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