So, hopefully you have all had a great Christmas and backed a few winners. There have been some awesome displays over the Christmas period and I've been particularly impressed by Darlan who is one of my horses to follow this season.
He is now 4/1 with Sky Bet for the Champion Hurdle and when you consider the ground was against him it was a brave performance in the Christmas Hurdle. I was pleased to see Grands Crus run a decent race in the King George on his first start since having a breathing operation and I'll be with him when he runs next.
In Ireland Blood Cotil looked impressive in the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle for Willie Mullins and he is 16/1 for the Triumph now. Another Mullins runner to impress was Arvika Ligeonniere who is now heading to the Irish Arkle. Simonsig looks like a machine and now the freshness has been taken out of him he can go from strength to strength hopefully without mishap, mind you we won't get rich backing him anytime soon.
Jezki is another exciting horse and he beat Waaheb easily at Leopardstown this week. He should improve for better ground which gives him outstanding claims at the festival for which he is now 6/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. I was impressed with Monksland in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on Friday.
The step up to three miles looked like it would suit this unexposed horse and that proved to be the case as he beat Zaidpour. In the absence of Big Bucks you would have to fancy his chances in the World Hurdle (6/1) and he may now go straight to the Cheltenham festival. The Lexus Chase has just been run at the time of writing and it looked like a clash between Flemenstar (who was trying three miles for the first time) and Sir des Champs. It was a dramatic race, one of the best I've seen, and Tidal Bay just snatched victory under an exceptional ride from Ruby Walsh.
Tidal Bay is a quirky monster, but a talented one and he is brilliantly handled by the team at Ditcheat. Flemenstar appeared to run out of stamina after cruising into contention and Sir Des Champs ran well enough, although his jumping wasn't always the most fluent. I still fancy the latter for the Gold Cup as his stamina will be a bonus there and I'm sure the Mullins team will put plenty of work into his jumping technique between now and March.
There is still plenty to come over the weekend and New Year. Conditions have been dreadful and the Welsh National has been rescheduled and will now be run on January 5th and Cheltenham's New Year's Day fixture is now subject to an inspection on Sunday.
Sky Bet have priced up some interesting specials for the New Year and there are a few that have caught my eye. The Cheltenham festival special I like the look of is the 'Magic Mullins' bet. You can get 28/1 for both Hurricane Fly to win the Champion Hurdle and Sir des Champs (who I really fancy) to win the Gold Cup. There are a host of other specials available if you have a strong view on a particular horse for the March festival, just check out their website.
If you fancy Sprinter Sacre to win the Champion Chase, but think he's too short at 2/5, you can get 6/4 about him winning by over 10 lengths. How about Sir des Champs to win the Gold Cup by over 10 lengths, that's 20/1 (no surprises that I like that one too!).
New Year Specials
Magic Mullins at 28/1 with Sky Bet
Sir Des Champs to win the Gold Cup by over 10 lengths @ 20/1 with Sky Bet