It’s the final day of racing before Christmas on Saturday, so we’ll all be aiming for some stocking fillers and a winner or two before the Boxing Day bonanza!
Agrapart – 2.25 Ascot @ 13/2
Nick Williams and Lizzie Kelly team up here with mud-loving Agrapart, winner of last season’s Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on testing going over this trip.
A field of 11 has been assembled for the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle over three miles and plenty of the leading protagonists have questions to answer.
Sam Spinner has failed to fire in recent times since winning this last year, while another former winner, Unowhatimeanharry, got back to winning ways at Newbury in a race that rather fell apart around him. Back up to three miles and in Grade 1 company, will the 10-year-old be as effective?
At the other end of the spectrum is likely favourite Call Me Lord, a promising five-year-old for Nicky Henderson having his first start of the season and surely needing to prove himself in this company over a new trip.
Agrapart was a perfectly-acceptable fourth behind Wholestone at Aintree last month on his return, with the race being over 2m4f and on good ground. This extra yardage is firmly in his favour and he’s the value call in the betting.
Gold Present – 3.00 Ascot @ 7/2
Champion trainer Henderson seeks to land this Listed contest for the second year running with Gold Present, now from a 5lb higher mark than last time.
He failed to fire at the Spring Festivals but underwent wind surgery in the off-season and put in a good show on his return at Ascot last month over 2m5f behind King George-bound Politologue.
The return to this trip will suit Gold Present and it is also noted that all three of his chase victories have come in November and December. Winter conditions are his thing and he looks primed for another big tilt at this prize.
Aristo Du Plessis – 11.50 Haydock @ 5/1
A record of nine wins from 22 starts gives Aristo Du Plessis a commendable 41 per cent strike-rate in this sphere and he came back to form last time when winning at Wetherby. He rallied to get the best of the re-opposing Cornerstone Lad in that race, having been headed at the final jump.
A 5lb rise in the ratings still leaves him well below his peak rating and there’s every reason to believe he’ll go well again.
Bruce Lynn claims on his back and the young jockey has scored in two of his three recent rides. They should be in the firing line when it matters in the opening race at Haydock.
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