Tiz the season to be jolly!

Hello & Welcome to the Arseonlineracing Boxing Day Blog… Yes as per our values, this website & podcast are 100% independent with absolutely NO affiliate links….

As usual all eyes will be on the King George at Kempton Park, with the rearranged Long Walk Hurdle, not to mention the vast amount of racing that is available on this Festive day, so if your all fed & watered, we shall begin….

4 of us take on Boxing Day… So here we go…

Chris –


1.35 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase

Sounds Russian is one of the more unexposed runners here, developing into a more than useful staying chaser. He comfortably landed the Edinburgh Gin handicap at Kelso in October over the extended 3 miles, before a creditable 4th behind Noble Yeats in the Many Clouds last time out. Running off 7lbs higher than his Kelso win, he could well have more to offer off this mark and is capable of a bold show in this typically competitive handicap.


2.30 King George VI chase

A fantastic renewal of this race, I immediately thought back to Bravemansgame’s demolition here in the Kauto Star a year ago. He seemed to thrive over this test and it’s no surprise that connections have bookmarked this race ever since. He was almost faultless when landing the Charlie Hall Chase on reappearance, with a similar performance today making him the one to beat. The Paul Nicholls yard look to win yet another big Boxing Day pot here and their charge should be bang there at the business end.

Jamie –

Leopardstown –

1:45 – Careers@dornangroup.com Novice Handicap Hurdle 

Selection: Itwasfate 

A very competitive Novice Handicap Hurdle to enjoy at the South Dublin course as a field of 18 go to post. There are quite a few to consider and I think Itwasfate is a solid enough each way selection as he has been crying out for nicer ground. Heavy ground has blunted his chances in his last two races when it looked like he did hold a good chance of winning, especially when travelling well at Gowran Park last time out before running out of steam in the last 100yds. With good to yielding ground looking certain he gets his ground today. There is more to come from Itwasfate as he is still lightly raced and off 11-6 I think a big run is on the cards. The De Bromhead stable are operating at 16% at the moment. The signs are positive and with a bit of luck in running I think he’ll be in the mix after that the last. 

*Each way advised* 

Down Royal –

2:33 – Hunters Chase (5yo+) 

Selection: The Storyteller

The highlight of Down Royal’s Boxing day card is an interesting looking Hunters Chase full of old favourites such as Snow Falcon, The Storyteller & Brain Power With his previous Grade 1 winning form over C+D I strongly fancy The Storyteller to come out on top once again. Gordon Elliott’s charge has been in excellent form of late since being switched to the point to point scene, winning all his three races so far in that sphere. This is a step up in class from his recent form and the ground is perhaps slightly on the tight side for my selection but on his day he is still the class act in this field. Vaucelet is a worthy favourite and will be a tough nut to crack, while defending champion Dorking Cock may be a solid each way selection. 

Neil –

1.20 Kempton, Kauto Star Novices’ Chase 3m, G1.

Only five go to post for this contest over the same course and distance as the King George and it looks more than likely that the prize will be heading down to the man whose probably paid for many a people’s Christmas over the year, Paul Nicholls.

Of the two he saddles i quite like the stable second string Gelino Bello to go and do the business.

So far his two chase starts have both been wins, admittedly his Wetherby win was helped by an opponent throwing the jockey off at the start but his Exeter win he had to dig in a bit and work for it which can help a lot around Kempton as they get to the business end, he’s a horse i like a lot and hopefully can give punters a wonderful Christmas time.

1.35 Wetherby, Rowland Meryck Handicap Chase, 3m.

A very tricky race to work out on paper with plenty holding good chances on their best form, a mix of wise old heads and young pretenders to the throne, a bit like the Royal Family.

One who catches the eye for me and will appreciate the track is the Nicky Henderson trained Chantry House who lines up with Robbie Dunne in the saddle.

Just over three weeks ago he lined up for the G2 Many Clouds Chase at Aintree and got no further than the fourth before getting rid of his jockey from where he had a little spin on his own and even schooled himself over a few Grand National fences in the process, at the moment he tends to win a rice before or after running a duff one so on that method he should be a shoe in for this, should things go to plan then he could be Aintree bound in the spring giving owner JP McManus a most wonderful time of the year.

2.30 Kempton, King George VI Chase, 3m.

The traditional Christmas classic comes around once again with what looks like the sort of renewal that all the letters to Santa have brought to the many thousands who will decend upon Kempton.

You literally could make a case for every runner in this and i fully expect the pace to be strong from the outset with no quarter given, Bryony will no doubt go flying off with Frodon from the start doing the sort of speed you expect Rudolph to achieve before he goes all E.T. and flies into the air!

My selection though will be Envoi Allen for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.

For a start he has more experience in open age company than current favourite Bravemansgame and while he is a horse i do like you just know he is their to be got at by the others, Envoi Allen certainly appreciated the step up to three miles at Down Royal on his seasonal debut and given the way that the Gold Cup can leave it’s mark you’d imagine they are thinking of him as a potential Gold Cup horse if A Plus Tard struggles again like he did at Haydock in the Betfair last month.

Also it’s one of those stories that’s made in the stars and nobody in racing would begrudge the De Bromhead’s a win in this after what has been a rough few months for them with the loss of son Jack.

Hopefully the flight back from Heathrow on Monday will have Rachael and Henry walking in the air after going on the ultimate sleigh ride around Kempton. 

Rich –

Wetherby –

2.10 – Handicap Hurdle – Class 3 – 4yo+ – 2m 5f 56yds…
Thanksforyourhelp – Martaline X Agathe Du Berlais – 5yo gelding.

Although yet to win over hurdle, the gelding has placed on all 4 of his hurdle starts. He was only beaten 2 & 1/2 lengths on his last start back in April, when finishing 2nd in the Punchestown 2m 3f 110yds Series Final Handicap Series to Life In The Park. Up in trip on season return – WIN.

Wincanton –

2.38 – Handicap Hurdle – Class 4 – 3yo+ – 1m 7f 56yds…
First Quest – First Defence X Dixie Quest – 8yo gelding.

C&D winner from October 2021, running from a mark of 110 & has started this term running over 2m 4f before being gradually dropped back in trip, with his last 2 runs yielding a 3rd & 2nd place finishes, the last run, on November 7th, was at Kempton over 2m in a Class 4 Conditional Handicap Hurdle. He runs from 108n today &b with 16 runners offers nice EACH WAY value, dropping back in trip….

Thanks for popping by & may we wish you all a very, merry Christmas & we thank you all for your support throughout the year. Remember, this blog is for all year round, not just for Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all & good Luck – The AOLR Team

WattySpots – Aintree

He’s been to Carlisle, he’s been to Haydock & now, he’s been to Aintree. It’s fair to say that Neil Watson (@WattyRacing) has been out & about in the last few weeks.
Today he brings you another 3 horse’s to add to your trackers….

Aintree played host it’s final meeting of the calendar year, to think that a course of this size and magnitude only race eight days a year although 2023 will see Boxing Day racing at the home of the Grand National in a meeting transferred from Huntingdon, it was a stellar seven race card before the old girl goes into winter hibernation to be woken up in mid April when the big one comes round again.

In the big race of the afternoon, the Becher Chase which was sponsored by a well known Irish bookmaker but not the one with the double initials was won by Ashtown Lad for Dan and Harry Skelton who mainly charted a wide course throughout the race and held off the pursuers in a race where plenty got round.

Ashtown Lad

One thing which a few weren’t keen on was Harry Skelton putting both his arms out off the reins as he passed the line, now celebrating a big race is quite natural but this had the look of stupid showboating and while there was no official stewards report into it, it was something that could have resulted in an accident and it isn’t a good look to the anti racing lobby.

The G2 Many Clouds Chase was won emphatically by Grand National winner Noble Yeats who came to the last as if he had just begun the race, his owner Robert Waley-Cohen is very keen on going for the Gold Cup and in what will be a wide open renewal he is worth his place in the line up, the favourite Ahoy Senior made a few mistakes at the opening fences and at the moment he isn’t quite firing in open age company and at the moment he needs a confidence boosting win.

Noble Yates

So with all that done let’s now take a look at the three Wattyspots from Aintree.

1 – Strong Leader – 5yo Bay Gelding – Trainer : Olly Murphy.

In a very decent looking novice hurdle that opened the card at the early start time of 11.45am plenty looked to have a chance but jockey Sean Bowen who rode a double on the day, the second of them being Noble Yeats began by landing the spoils with this very impressive winner for trainer Olly Murphy drawing on to win by eight lenghts.

Unraced on the flat he won a Warwick bumper in May then back in October ran second in a decent Cheltenham one before scoring on his hurdling debut at Uttoxeter, he looks to have a fair future and could prove to be more than useful as the season progresses.

Strong Leader

2 – Sounds Russian – 7yo Bay Gelding – Trainer : Ruth Jefferson.

An intriguing Many Clouds Chase saw as you’ve already read the return to Aintree of Noble Yeats who scored with style but the one to take out from the race in my view was this one trained in Malton by the very underrated Ruth Jefferson.

Stepping into Graded company for the first time this very consistent 7yo was thrown in at the deep end against some useful types but he didn’t need any armbands to stay afloat as Callum Bewley gave him a peach of a ride and was staying on towards the end being beaten only a handful of lengths back in fourth spot.

He began the season recording his third win at Kelso and it would be no shocker if he were to go there for the Premier Chase in March and could also potentially visit Haydock for a race like the Peter Marsh, he might be a Grand National horse although certainly not this season but he would be worth his place if he were to line up in 2024.

3 – Gesskile – 6yo Bay Gelding – Trainers : Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero.

Two starts over the Grand National fences have resulted in two runners-up spots for this locally trained horse as he chased in vain under Henry Brooke but just like last months Grand Sefton he found one horse slightly better than him.

He ran in the Becher off a rating of 137 and he deserves his place in the line up for the big one especially when you put the “Aintree Factor” in which this horse has clearly got, 2011 was the last time Aintree saw a locally trained winner of the Grand National but Gesskile could be the one to keep it home, who knows maybe Baddiel and Skinner could rewrite the lyrics to their famous song?

I can see him possibly running his next few races in France as he has done so previously but the way he travels and more importantly can come from off the pace over those big fences is something that will stand him in good stead should he return here in April for either the Topham or the National.

A very enjoyable afternoon at Aintree, as always this place never fails to delight and I shall look forward very much to returning in April, next up on my racing travels I shall be local again for the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock Park till then goodbye and happy punting. 

Article & Pictures – Neil Watson

An AOLR Publication – Published : December 2022

The Countdown is on…..

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A busy Saturday ahead, Watty has joined the ranks today along with Charlie, Jamie & Rich..

Charlie –

Sandown 2.20 Class 2 Handicap Hurdle over 2m

Selection – Homme Public 5 yr old Gelding out of Cokoriko and Uddy. Has had 10 runs over hurdles winning 3 times. The wins have came at Market Rasen, Newcastle and Wetherby over 2m. Won on most recent outing at Wetherby on the 12th November when beating Too Friendly by 5 and 1/2 lengths. If reproducing that here should have too much for this field, biggest threat to the selection comes in the shape of Love Envoi who has won 5 times from 6 starts over hurdles.


Aintree 2.40 Class 2 Handicap Chase over 2m 4f

Selection – Riders On The Storm 9 yr old Gelding out of Scorpion and Endless Moments. Has had 25 career starts winning 6 times, had 1 win from 6 starts over hurdles before embarking on chase career, has 5 wins from 17 starts over fences including 2 wins and a 2nd place at this venue. Won on most recent outing here on the 23rd October when beating Hitman by a head over 2m 4f. if reproducing that kind of effort again should be enough to gain another victory, biggest danger to the selection comes in the shape of Gunsight Ridge who also won here on last start on the 5th of November when beating Galop De Chasse by 2 and 1/4 lengths over 2m.

Jamie –

Sandown –

2:20 – Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)

Selection: Love Envoi

There is doubting that this will take a big performance once again from Love Envoi off 11st-10lbs, but I think her class will tell this afternoon. The classy 6yo Mare brings in the best form after a terrific novice hurdling campaign last season which saw her win five of her six races. The pick of those victories came in the Mares Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, where Love Envoi’s high cruising speed came in very handy. She is undoubtedly the class act in this field and if she is anywhere near her best then she will be tough to beat. Love Envoi also holds a win over C&D already when taking a Grade 2 here in February. This is a Mare I like a lot and I will be watching her closely this season.

 Fairyhouse –

2:27 – Close Brothers Novices Hurdle

Selection: The Four Sixes

This looks to be a competitive and open looking Novice Hurdle over 2m 4f as the market would suggest. Gordon Elliott’s The Four Sixes is among the least exposed of the 13 declared runners and looks to be in with every chance. Having shown some promise when third in his only bumper in the spring, The Four Sixes made a winning debut over hurdles at Clonmel a fortnight ago. The son of Westerner kept on well for pressure that day over two miles and I am hopeful that the step up in trip to 2m 4f will bring out more improvement in The Four Sixes. He doesn’t appear harshly treated off 11st-7lbs either for what will essentially be his handicap debut. Yielding ground should also be okay as Davy Russell retains the partnership from Clonmel. 


Neil –

1.30, 3m1f Many Clouds Chase G2.

On paper a very nice looking contest featuring the Grand National winner from April and a few Cheltenham Festival winners to add a bit of festive spice to this race.

Favourite at the moment is top novice from last season Ahoy Senior, he bagged some big prizes including the Mildmay Novices’ Chase here in April and finished second behind last Saturday’s Rehearsal Chase victor L’Homme Presse in the big 3m Novice at Cheltenham too.

For me I think he is worth taking on after his poor reappearance at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall and I’m going for the Nicky Henderson trained Chantry House to do the biz instead.

He is a course and distance winner as he won the 2021 Mildmay when it was behind closed doors and bagged the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham back in January, although he was pulled up in the Gold Cup this is a race very much for the taking and i think he is the one to be on.

2.05, Becher Chase, Premier Handicap, 3m2f.

The last race of the year at Aintree over the big green fences sees a field of twenty three face the starter in what will be a truly run race and expect the usual thrills and spills.

Course form always counts for extra here, last months Grand Sefton runner up Gesskile bids to go one better and although he does shape like he will stay no 6yo has ever won has ever won it although three 7yo have.

In recent years the trainers at the more lower end who don’t have the Gold Cup horses tend to do well in a race like this and one of quite a few who stand out for me is Dr Kananga from Ben Clarke’s stable in Dorset.

His seven starts over fences has yielded three wins including the famous Heart Of All England Hunter Chase at Hexham, just the one start this season saw him run second in a 2m7f novice hurdle at Bangor last month behind the useful Maximillian,  back in fourth was Fortescue who also runs but i think Dr Kananaga has been laid out to scoop a big pot.  

Rich –

Aintree –
2.05 Beecher Handicap Chase – Class 1 – 6yo+ – 3m 1f 188yds
Rapid Flight – Midnight Legend X Spring Flight 6yo gelding.

Winner of chase races between May 2021 & August 2022, including 4 on the bounce at Cartmel in C4, C3 & C2 company. He unseated his Jockey on seasonal return in a 3m 2f Class 2 handicap chase at Kelso in October, at the first fence before finishing a 20 length runner up to Crystal Glory in a Hexham Class 3 3m handicap chase on November 16th. This is a big step up in class but with up to 7 places available, i think at around 33s is a decent EW shout – EACH WAY

Wetherby –
2.33 Novice Handicap Chase – Class 4 – 4yo+ – 3m 45yds…
Harry Du Berlais – Shirocco X Theatre Mole 5yo gelding.

Inexperienced chaser, who has only made 5 starts in total, 2 over chase fences. He made 3 hurdle starts having moved from Colin Bowe.
he finished a 1/2 length 2nd on Chase debut last April before being put away for the summer & making his seasonal return on November 10th in a 2m 7f Market Rasen Class 4 Novice Handicap Chase, winning by a short head. Race’s from a mark of 100, which could underestimate his ability despite his lack of experience! WIN

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Good Luck – The AOLR Team

Wattyspots – Haydock

Normal service has sort of resumed for what was my first outing on the racecourse since my visit to Carlisle back in October.

Due to various reasons such as being in attendance at several matches in the recent Rugby League World Cup and the train strikes, sadly meant that the three meetings I would usually have attended have been missed but now that’s out of the way I was able to pop along to the local for some midweek action.

Haydock Park

Originally only forty horses were declared across seven races although three non runners didn’t exactly help but for myself and sadly, the small crowd in attendance we were treated to some pretty good racing for a midweek card and I think I’ve definitely unearthed some potentially useful horses as the season goes on – so let’s take a look.

1 – Ballygrifincottage – 7yo Bay Gelding – Trainer : Dan Skelton.

Visually the best performance of the very cold afternoon came in the 2m 5f novice chase as this former pointer, who had an ok season over hurdles winning a staying novice at the Lingfield Winter Millions Festival in January before coming fourth in the potato race at the Cheltenham Festival made a winning start over the larger obstacles.

Despite facing only two other runners, he easily disposed of the Colin Parker winner Beaufort very easily and despite getting 8lbs off him he always looked to have his measure, Beaufort made a chunk of errors on the second circuit which he can’t afford to do and is one to treat with caution next time.

As for the winner, he has a huge future ahead of him and Harry Skelton was very pleased after the race, when saying to Dan that he wished he could have gone round again.

He will take high rank in the novice chase division this season

2 – Mr Vango – 6yo Bay Gelding – Trainer : Mark Bradstock.

From a very shrewd stable, that have a real knack of bringing along smart types that the public resonate and fall in love with, think Carruthers and Coneygree, they definitely have another one here in ex pointer Mr Vango.

Although only five went to post for the three mile maiden hurdle, it gave a fantastic finish to the fans in the stands as he rallied under Jack Tudor to regain the lead off Inis Oirr from Lucinda Russell’s yard & is another one to stick in the trackers.

Costing £30,000 Sara Bradstock certainly likes him and said in a post race chat with Gordon Brown, how they go for these longer prospects as most jumps trainers seem to target 4yo horses at the sales, the Bradstock’s will probably take their time with him and while he may not be aimed at the big festivals this term.

He will be at his best when sent over fences and looks every inch a long distance chaser in the making.

3 – Jungle Jack – 6yo Chestnut Gelding – Trainer : Donald McCain.

The light was slowly fading for the nightcap, a 2m 3f handicap hurdle but it had a nice look about it even though two non runners had taken the field size down from six to just four runners.

All eyes were on the unbeaten Venetia Williams trained odds on favourite – Djelo who was bidding to follow up a recent Exeter win, he was very keen and lit up from the off pulling Charlie Deutsch for most of the journey, at the second last Brian Hughes had Jungle Jack primed for action with all the bare necessities to go on and land the spoils giving his owner, trainer and jockey no troubles or strife at all.

A good quality novice last season he looks ahead of his opening mark of 125 and the handicapper will have his job to try and catch him.

It was good to be back on course again and hopefully this Saturday I shall be making my first visit of the season to Aintree for the Becher Chase which is always a lovely pre Christmas highlight.

Till then it’s goodbye. 

Article & Pictures – Neil Watson

An Arseonlineracing Production – Published : December 2022