Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: UK Racing Best Bets - Saturday 21 December 2019

UK Racing Best Bets - Saturday 21 December 2019

UK Racing Best Bets

Neil Morrice walks you through the front runners for Saturday's racing at Haydock, Newcastle and Ascot,
 including the feature race analysis for the Betfair Exchange Trophy as well as the Dave Dawes Silver Cup Handicap Chase


Betfair Exchange Trophy (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 
The betting extravaganza of the day is wickedly competitive as you might expect for a race carrying £150,000 in prizemoney.

A springer in the market has been QUOI DE NEUF who ran a cracker when fourth to Harambe in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham. He’s a horse that probably needs producing as late as possible, and might have hit the front earlier than ideal before being overpowered up the final hill. His quiet racing style will see him pick off rivals at the business end, but he doesn’t want to be too far back granted this is a short home straight.

HARAMBE stayed on strongly to prevail in the Greatwood but is now 6lb higher. He looks to have it to do to confirm his superiority over Quoi De Neuf.

Nicky Henderson mounts a two-pronged challenge with FRENCH CRUSADER and COUNTISTER, both of whom have attracted support in the ante post-market. The trainer is looking for a fifth success in the prize, and while Countister will be all the better for her first run back, French Crusader is the one I prefer. The three-time winner is having only an eighth career start and appears to have come on in leaps and bounds since chasing home stablemate Epatante at Newbury. He just needs to prove his ability to handle the testing ground from a 4lb higher mark, as his two previous runs on soft have resulted in defeats.

SCARAMANGA and TAMAROC DU MATHAN represent Paul Nicholls and the former has gone off favourite in each of his six starts since joining his trainer. He came good with a clear cut win over Milkwood at Wincanton last time out and the conditional jockey that rode him, Bryan Carver, again takes 7lb off his back. Tamaroc Du Mathan will strip a lot fitter than when second to Master Debonair over this course and distance last month. That came after a near 600-day break and a second wind operation.

David Pipe’s UMBRIGADO is a well regarded novice who stayed on in eyecatching fashion behind Stoney Mountain in a warm race at Haydock. He’s worked well since that race, one that is believed to have brought him to the boil.

NOT SO SLEEPY brought a decent staying record on the Flat to the table when landing a course and distance handicap last month when gifted an easy lead. With others that like to get on with things in the field, that’s unlikely to happen again.

Last year’s winner MOHAAYED is competing off the same mark but was 20 lengths adrift of Harambe and clearly has work to do.

Prediction

1st FRENCH CRUSADER

2nd Quoi de Neuf

3rd Umbrigado

4th Not So Sleepy

5th Countister

6th Scaramanga

Dave Dawes Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Listed)
CRIEVEHILL is making up for lost time as he bids to complete an impressive hat-trick. He drew and blank for Nigel Twiston-Davies last season but his recent wins at Wetherby and Haydock show him to be a horse in a hurry. He greatly appreciated the step up in trip last time and though a full 10lb higher has to seriously enter calculations.

ACTING LASS came out of the wilderness to score at Chepstow a fortnight ago where the addition of first-time cheekpieces and softer ground appeared to help his renaissance. Without a mistake three out he would have had more in hand on runner-up Another Venture. He’s back in a good place and could be a big player back on a course he likes.

The bold jumping KILDISART likes this course and interests me on his second run back. On his reappearance, he had little hope of trading blows with Lostintranslation but ran well to a point and Ben Pauling reckons the run has properly sharpened him up.

The giant GIVE ME A COPPER travelled well to plunder a decent pot on his Wincanton reappearance but got close to a couple in the process. With his low mileage, any amount of improvement is possible, but I wonder whether the stiffer Ascot fences might compromise things?

His trainer Paul Nicholls also saddles BLACK CORTON who will almost certainly make the running. He’s done little wrong in better company in three outings already and is effective on this track and in the ground.

Anything from the Venetia Williams stable has to be given close inspection and that’s one reason for including YALLTARI in your exotics. When last seen he finished third in a Grade 2 over this course and distance and he comes here in favour of a race at Haydock. Fitness will not be an issue, and he can earn.

JERRYSBACK failed to cut the mustard when returning at Newbury but had good form last season after fluking a poor race at Bangor. The way he travels in the market might tell us what we need to know.

MISTER MALARKY wasn’t disgraced when just out of the money in the Ladbroke Trophy (Hennessy) at Newbury but needs to step up if he’s to win this.

Prediction

1st KILDISART

2nd Crievehill

3rd Black Corton

4th Acting Lass

5th Give Me A Copper

6th Yalltari

Ascot Undercard Best Bets 

Race 2: RIDERS ON THE STORM (3) (Nap) 
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies 
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies

Justice can be seen to be done with RIDERS ON THE STORM taking this as a consolation prize for his bizarre departure from last week’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham. The former Irish-based gelding exited the Caspian owing to an administrative blunder and has been redirected to this £50,000 graduation chase. Hugely impressive on debut for new connections, he can follow-up on the way to better things.

Race 3: GARDE LA VICTOIRE (2) (Each Way)
Trainer: Philip Hobbs 
Jockey: Richard Johnson 

Former Greatwood Hurdle winner GARDE LA VICTOIRE comes back from well over a year on the sidelines but can go well at a big price in this handicap chase. He’s taken a fair drop in the ratings and has a definite touch of class that can manifest itself with an earning run.

Haydock Best Bets
Race 5: SECRETE STREAM (5) (Each Way)
Trainer: Ruth Jefferson 
Jockey: Aidan Blakemore 

Injury-plagued SECRETE STREAM likes this course and is worth siding with on his seasonal return. Layoffs hold no perils for the ten-year-old, as demonstrated with his comeback win in the 2018/19 campaign. He’s reported to have worked well in his winding-up gallop for this.

Race 6: TOP WOOD (4)
Trainer: Kelly Morgan 
Jockey: Tabitha Worsley 

As he nears becoming a teenager, TOP WOOD has the heavy conditions that see him galloping when others have had enough. Since joining his trainer in 2017 he’s scaled great heights as a hunter-chaser, making the frame in the last two Cheltenham Foxhunters and winning the Aintree Foxhunters back in April. He then made a very pleasing return to action when second at Ascot, a run that has brought him to his peak.

Newcastle Best Bets  

Race 1: STARPLEX (6) 
Trainer: Keith Dalgleish 
Jockey: Brian Hughes

Title race contender Hughes is the perfect match for the strong travelling STARPLEX who needs riding with the patience of Job. The 9yo looked to have plenty up his sleeve when scoring over two and a half miles here last week, and will not mind the return to the minimum distance. 

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