Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Neil Morrice: UK Racing Best Bets - Sunday 26 December 2020

Neil Morrice: UK Racing Best Bets - Sunday 26 December 2020

Neil Morrice

Neil Morrice brings you all of his best bets and tips for Sunday's racing coming your way from Chepstow, Kempton Park, Wetherby and Wolverhampton

Neil shares all of his fancies for Sunday's racing around the United Kingdom. Take a look at his video preview below:

Chepstow Best Bets

Trainer: Fergal O’Brien - Jockey: Paddy Brennan

ELHAM VALLEY was always in the sight of top jumping yards during his days on the Flat, and duly made a taking debut over hurdles when beating Hudson De Grugy for his new trainer at Sandown. That performance suggests he’s going to prove a lot better in this division, and he’s selected to turn over likely favourite Houx Gris, who earned in all three starts in France including a hurdle race on heavy ground at Auteuil when last seen in late October. He’s joined Paul Nicholls under top ownership and comes here with a big reputation.

PRIME VENTURE (14) (Each Way)
Trainer: Evan Williams - Jockey: Tom O’Brien

The Becher Chase triumph of VIEUX LION ROUGE was an eye taking delivery over Grand National fences at which the veteran excels, but though respect must be paid to him he hasn’t had much luck in two previous attempts at this marathon. 

David Pipe’s gelding is joined by RAMSES DE TEILLEE who is a similarly strong stayer and proven round here. Against this the Evan Williams stable fields a tantalising twin-forked attack with unexposed novice SECRET REPRIEVE and PRIME VENTURE. The former is unbeaten in two visits to this course and makes just a ninth career start and sixth over fences, having proved very strong and been backed into clear favourite in the ante post-market. He served notice he’s ready for a bold shot at the prize with a comfortable success over three miles at the beginning of the month. Prime Venture has far more miles on the clock, and sported first-time cheekpieces when fourth to Potters Corner in the corresponding race 12 months ago. However, the headgear was dispensed with for his wide margin conversion on reappearance at Sedgefield in which he belatedly cast aside his novice status. He started as the outsider of three but with some assured jumping instantly put his foes to the sword over the last couple of fences. 

Others that come right into the argument include the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of YALA ENKI and TRUCKERS LODGE. Top weight Yala Enki finished third in this 12 months ago and has enjoyed success since moving to Ditcheat and undergoing wind surgery. He was pipped by RAMSES DE TEILLEE in the National Trial here last month, but looked beaten when falling in the Becher Chase. Truckers Lodge has a very solid record since being sent chasing, with a couple of wins and a second in this race last year. Nicholls has campaigned him almost exclusively at Chepstow although his latest triumph happened in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter. At eight he appears to have the world at his feet in terms of challenging for the top long-distance races. Ramses De Teillee is a horse I could see bouncing back from his heavy defeat behind stablemate Vieux Lion Rouge at Aintree. The grey grittily denied Yala Enki in the trial here, and has a good record at this track.

2nd Secret Reprieve
3rd Truckers Lodge
4th Ramses De Teillee
5th Vieux Lion Rouge
6th Yala Enki

Race 6: GOWEL ROAD (4) (Nap)
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies - Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies

In colours carried with success by stalwart Double Ross, GOWEL ROAD can cut the mustard in this novices’ hurdle following a cracking first run in defeat at Ffos Las. Easy to back, the Flemensfirth gelding made the smart Bear Ghylls fight for the spoils and will be more streetwise now.

Kempton Park Best Bets

Trainer: Harry Whittington - Jockey: Gavin Sheehan

All eyes will be on the outstanding two-miler ALTIOR, whose sequence of 19 straight successes including this race in 2016 and 2018 labels him an extraordinary talent. That amazing run was only broken when he stepped up in trip in very testing ground at Ascot, but his defeat there by Cyrname was cast into the archives when he returned to this trip to readily see off Sceau Royal at Newbury back in February. 

Nicky Henderson has had plenty of time through lockdown to weigh up his line of attack with the ten-year-old, after he was unable to defend his Queen Mother Chase crown at the Festival in March. The Seven Barrows trainer resisted bringing Altior back on very soft ground in the Tingle Creek and should find better underfoot conditions awaiting his champion here in a different part of the London suburbia. 

ROUGE VIF took his chance in the Tingle Creek even though conditions were rank against him. He embarks on something of a recovery mission following his defeat at Sandown where he had to play second fiddle to Politologue and Greanateen. That pair are absent from today’s line up, and given the fact he jumped well and eventually went down by just over eight lengths, there’s an argument to suggest Rouge Vif can demonstrate he’s now a far better horse than that which chased home Put The Kettle On in the Arkle at the Festival back in March. 

Completing the field are solid entities such as SCEAU ROYAL and DUC DES GENIEVRES and the latter is of some interest given his bold attempt to deny Put The Kettle On when equipped with a first-time hood in the Schloer Chase at Cheltenham. That was a very pleasing first effort since his move to the Nicholls stable, and can be built upon.

2nd Altior
3rd Duc Des Genievres
4th Sceau Royal

Race 5: COMMANCHE RED (2) (Each Way)
Trainer: Chris Gordon - Jockey: Tom Cannon

A return to his favourite course could be what’s required to see COMMANCHE RED get his mojo back following a couple of underwhelming efforts so far this season. He landed the novices’ handicap chase here last Boxing Day and ran a cracker when third to Who Dares Wins in a Grade 2 novice chase in these Sunbury surroundings in February. He’s not looked the same horse of late, but with the addition of cheek pieces may be able to raise his game and get into the money at a decent price.

Race 6: EDDIEMAURICE (12) (Nap)
Trainer: John Flint - Jockey: TBA

Competing in this race for the fifth year in succession, and having landed the spoils in 2018, EDDIEMAURICE can give us something to cheer about at a tasty price with conditions very much in his favour. Second in the 2017 running and third last year, the chestnut has warmed up for what I hope is D-Day with a quiet run on the Flat at Newbury and seventh to Buzz at Ascot in an effort that could prove better than it looked. The form was held up by Buzz’s fine effort in defeat back at that course last week, while the selection now finds himself competing in a bigger field with the near-certainty of a strong gallop that brings his finishing kick into play at the business end of the contest.

Wetherby Best Bets

Race 2: MANINSANE (9)
Trainer: Charlie Longsdon - Jockey: Brian Hughes

With the champion jockey a significant booking, MANINSANE can take out this novices’ hurdle for a stable with a good record on its forays to the Yorkshire course. The selection went down by just half a length to Chazza on debut over jumps at Bangor following a wide margin bumper triumph at Stratford, form which makes him very much the one to beat.

Race 5: FIRST FLOW (2)
Trainer: Kim Bailey - Jockey: David Bass

The featured Castleford Chase sees FIRST FLOW with a fine chance of completing a nap hand of victories. The eight-year-old came out of a successful novice season over fences to gamely take out an Ascot handicap when ridden with restraint. Similar tactics can again see him in a good light.

Race 7: PARRAMOUNT (10)
Trainer: Charlie Longsdon - Jockey: Brian Hughes

It will take something above average to triumph in the nightcap but PARRAMOUNT could be just that following an eye taking first run under Rules when second in a similar contest at Haydock. There were only five runners but he made the useful Tamar Bridge fight for th3 spoils, and can build on that.

Wolverhampton Best Bets

Race 3: PRIORITISE (12) (Each Way)
Trainer: James Tate - Jockey: Callum Shepherd

By Camelot out of a Green Desert mare, PRIORITISE shaped with some promise with a midfield finish on debut at Kempton and looks the type to do better by troubling the judge at a juicy price. She hails from a stable whose juveniles often make great strides from debut to second start.

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