DAVY RUSSELL exclusive blog: BOXING DAY PREVIEW
I’ve got a busy few days ahead working some horses in the Curragh on Christmas Eve and then a dash to get home. Santa has his work cut out in our house with plenty of little people excited about the big day. It will be lovely, but I’ll be keeping myself really busy to be honest. We’ve loads of animals to feed and I’ll be trying to spend as much time doing that as possible rather than feeding myself! After all the celebrations are over, I’ll be heading to Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day for some top class racing and there is a fair bit of rain in the forecast.
My thoughts below on my five rides, the big race in Limerick and obviously the action in Kempton. I’ve also recorded a Festive Zoom Room with Bill and Luke and you can watch that here too ….
DARTINGTON – 12.00pm
I kick things off aboard Dartington who makes his debut for Gordon (Elliott) in the opener. If I’m honest I don’t know too much about him and have yet to sit on him. He’s come to us from Marcus Tregoning where he won a couple on the flat. I’ll guess we’ll know a lot more about his potential afterwards, but we’ll give it a go. Willie’s (Mullins) State Man has been off a fair while but could be smart while Hiaou pleased us first time in Naas and will build on that.
ASH TREE MEADOW – 12.35pm
Under normal circumstances you’d be pretty keen on the chances of Ash Tree Meadow who caught the eye the last time in Fairyhouse. He will come on bundles for that and promises to be competitive, but we face Sir Gerhard on his hurdling debut. We know he has some engine and I’ve no worry over his ability to jump a hurdle as he came from a point. He obviously has to go and do it over hurdles, but he sets the bar very high.
FIL DOR – 1.10pm (Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 2)
We’ve always thought the world of this fella and he has to carry a penalty here which makes life a bit tougher. However, Fil Dor (pictured below) loves soft ground and if we get the rain that can only help him. Lunar Power may have just been a bit better suited to the decent surface the last day and hopefully we can confirm that form. The key is we have to keep on improving but he gave me a nice feel the other day and we go there very hopeful.
THE GREEK – 1.45pm
A really competitive novice handicap hurdle as you might expect where I ride the consistent The Greek. He’s yet to win a race under rules but has finished second four times and deserves to get his head in front. If he’s on a going day he could get involved, but this looks tough. Stablemate Hamundarson won well the last day and can go well again.
2.20pm (Racing Post Novice Chase)
No ride for me in this but it will be fascinating to see how our filly Riviere D’etel gets on against Ferny Hollow. She’s won her last three over fences so brings plenty of experience to the party. However, in Ferny Hollow (pictured below) you are meeting a Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner who has beaten the likes of Bob Olinger and Appreciate it in two of his last three starts. He’s got to go and do it over fences now, but he has class and will take some beating.
COACH CARTER – 2.55pm
My final ride of the afternoon is Coach Carter in the handicap chase. The key to this fella is to be fresh and that is why he hasn’t run since October. He’s had some time to freshen up and hopefully he can run well. That said, it looks a tough old race to win though with the likes of Fan De Blues, Soviet Pimpernel and Tiger Voice to name just three.
Over in Limerick there is a cracker of a Grade One…
2.40pm (Faugheen Novice Chase – Grade One)
Gordon runs a really nice one here in Farouk D’alene who has been in great form at home. There was a chance I could have missed Leopardstown to go and ride him and I’d say he’ll give Jordan (Gainford) some spin. He won at the track this time last year and I’d say they will all have to go to beat him.
Last but not least, there is some great racing in Kempton…
2.30pm (Christmas Hurdle – Grade One)
I’ve always been a fan of the mare Epatante (pictured below) and would say she’d be the one to beat again. She had a right battle with Not So Sleepy the last day, but this track will suit her better. Tritonic is being asked a big question plenty soon enough after scooping a big pot last weekend, while Soaring Glory may need a bigger field.
3.05pm (King George VI Chase – Grade One)
Another cracker of a race and it will be interesting to see how Asterion Forlonge gets on. He looked like winning the last day but that wasn’t the first time he hadn’t seen out his race. He’s talented but a risky proposition. You obviously have to respect the Paul Nicholls team, while Minella Indo is a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. The pieces may help him but I’m not sure the track is ideal for him. The most interesting one for me is Chantry House who impressed me on his seasonal reappearance and may just be the new star in town.
Wishing you all a Happy Christmas