There have been some surprise results over the Festive period not least in the King George and Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day. Frodon provided Paul Nicholls with a record breaking twelfth win in the Christmas showpiece following a fine front running ride by Bryony Frost. The former Ryanair Chase winner had disappointed on his previous start at Aintree but wasn't suited by the fact they missed out nine fences due to the low sun. The eight year old was always to the fore and fended off his challengers one by one before beating Waiting Patiently by two and a quarter lengths. It is fair to say many of the leading contenders failed to give their running but it was still an excellent performance by the gutsy winner who is set to contest the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. Dual winner and stablemate Clan Des Obeaux finished third but looked flat for much of the contest and didn't jump with his usual vest. He almost certainly left his race behind in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, while Cyrname travelled as well as anything until making a mistake down the backstraight. That knocked the stuff outing of him and Harry Cobden soon eased off. The fourth Nicholls runner Real Steel reportedly bled. It is alarming that Laurina (retired), Dolcita and Real Steel, who are all owned by Jared Sullivan and were transferred to Ditcheat during the summer have all bled for their new trainer.
As regards Silver Streak's win in the Christmas Hurdle, I was delighted for Evan Williams following the grey's six and a half lengths victory over Epatante. Contesting the seventh Grade 1 of his career, he was given a canny front running ride by Adam Wedge. The seven year old has been a remarkable horse for his new connections having been bought for £25,000 in November 2016 when only rated 96. He has won eight times for the Welsh handler, including three times at the Sunbury track, and was officially rated 158 on Saturday.
The likes of Shan Blue (2/1), Heross Du Seuil (3/1) and Cadzand (5/2) have been winners for the Christmas Special and there are a few runners to come over the next few days. Shan Blue produced a superb round of jumping to win the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase. Despite his three and three quarters of a length victory though, Dan Skelton plans to drop him back in distance later in the season with the Marsh Novices' Chase expected to be his main target in the spring. The placing of The Big Breakaway continues to frustrate and, considering he didn't jump anywhere near as well as he had on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in November, I thought Colin Tizzard's gelding did well to finish as close as did. Once returning to a left handed track, we will see what he is capable of.
Farouk D'Alene, Shishkin, The Big Getaway and Zanahiyr have provided the Top 40 Prospects with four more winners during the last three days. The first named relished the return to a right-handed track and step up to three miles at Limerick on Monday. Shishkin once again showed that he is an outstanding chasing prospect as he powered away in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices' Chase on Sunday, while The Big Getaway clearly came on plenty for his chasing debut this month by making all and scoring by ten lengths at Leopardstown. Zanahiyr made it three out of three over timber with another impressive display in Grade 2 company at the same track on Boxing Day. Blessed with speed and stamina, Gordon Elliott's three year old is a tremendous jumper and rightly heads the ante-post market for the Triumph Hurdle.
I have been delighted with the French Revolution section in One Jump Ahead and Gaillard Du Mesnil (5/4) looked another fine prospect when winning the two and a half miles maiden hurdle at Leopardstown on Monday. A four year old by Saint Des Saints, he had finished runner-up on his Irish debut and improved markedly for the outing. Paul Townend's gelding oozed class at the Dublin track and pulled away between the final two flights. He looks a Graded horse in the making. Hacker Des Places (6/4) was another winner for the feature scoring by 32 lengths at Wetherby on Sunday, while Heross Du Seuil (3/1) made a winning start to his British career at Kempton during the same afternoon.
“Thank you for a very successful and profitable email service. My personal highlight was the win of Aloomomo whose romp round Uttoxeter was a joy. Keep up the good work with all your services, the books and updates, they are simply the best by a very long way.”
“Just want to say thanks for running the service again this year, I have ended up with a nice £756 profit from it so I'm obviously very happy with that so thanks a lot!”
“Thanks for your email Mark would just like to say your selections and insight has been awesome. Keep up the good work sir your service is the best.”
“Thank you for an excellent tipping service throughout the three months. It has been a pleasure and profitable to be a member of your service. Your indepth knowledge and analysis of the race has been excellent. I honestly rate your service as one of the best and most profitable.”
“Thanks very much for the fantastic service you have supplied, I have been involved with racing tipsters for over 30 years and never had as good a strike rate as yourself, out of this world.”
“The email service as usual has been brilliant and this season's OJA seems to continue to unearth amazing insight if you have the time to trust and follow it in detail over a period. Thanks as always for your outstanding value for money publications.”
“Superb information again Mark, I managed to get some 11/4, will certainly pay for Xmas. Different class.”
“Awesome result the magicman strikes again. Won with plenty in hand and not a moments worry great write up spot on again and results speak for themselves best service I've tried, keep up the fantastic work sir. Very happy customer!”
Mark Howard Publications Ltd.
69 Fairgarth Drive