1.25pm Chepstow Tips & Betting Preview 27/12/2016

A close to three-mile handicap hurdle that is as competitive as you would expect it to be, yet Peter Bowen’s Awaywiththegreys (16/1) won it last year -and the year before, and the year before that, so the conditions clearly suit him ideally. Amazingly, he is back again in 2016 to look for an unprecedented fourth win in a row and actually runs off a handicap rating three pounds lower than he carried to success last season. That immediately tells the story that he has been out of form ever since his victory last year and so it seems with a fifth of seven at Beverley on the flat his best run since and a last of seven at Ffos Las (beaten sixty-eight lengths) and a pulled up when tailed off over course and distance last time out his only runs this season and he needs to snap out of that to win again this afternoon, though all things are possible when it comes to this horse and this race.

Next up we will have a look at the in-form horses and with Dr Richard Newland in fine form with a 38% strike rate in the last two weeks and he has entered Desert Sensation (10/1 Each Way) here who could well look to make it a hat trick from near to the bottom of the weights. A Class Four at Exeter off a rating of 109 was followed at Ascot in a similar race (only for novices) by two and three quarter lengths last time out which in turn has seen him put up another seven pounds but he seems sure to really go well off a low weight upped in class, and ought to prove really hard to beat this afternoon.

Oliver Sherwood is a trainer we have a lot of time for and is always more than happy to deal with the media and he has entered Big Occasion (33/1) here and he could be interesting off a handicap rating of just 124 this afternoon. Last seen at Fontwell over fences when pulled up in November 2015, this will be his first run over hurdles since finishing seventh to American Spin at Haydock in May 2012 but he could certainly be considered well weighted on the best of his chasing form and is a bit of a dark horse this afternoon with each-way possibilities.

Our good friend and partner Nigel Twiston-Davies has Arctic Gold (10/1) entered here and he won a shade cleverly last time out at Sandown by a length and three quarters. It looked as if he had been brought to the front soon enough that day and he did idle a little once he got there, but he always had enough in hand to repel any challengers and has only been put up five pounds for that victory which seems more than fair enough, and he is another who should go well.

To round off our race preview, the eye is also drawn to the Warren Greatrex trained Shantou Bob (9/1) who looked a potential world beater when winning his first four races with a point-to-point, a bumper, and two races over hurdles at Ffos Las and Lingfield over two and a half miles before two places and a good sixth to Martello Tower in the Albert Bartlett at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.  A wind operation followed after which he was pulled up at Haydock in November 2015 and wasn’t seen again until reappearing almost exactly a year later at Newbury when a very encouraging second to Solomn Grundy over three miles, staying on after the race was over. Sure to improve for that he may well be getting back to something like his peak in which case a rating of 137 may yet prove to be pretty generous.

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