Christmas Crackers – The Biggest Festive Battles!

Might Bite wins the King George

The festive period is upon us, and with it, comes some of the best racing of the National Hunt season, with Grade 1s aplenty from both Great Britain and Ireland. From Might Bite, to Samcro, to Apple’s Jade, the stars are coming out to play and we’re preparing from some ding-dong battles over the next week. With so much action to look forward to, we’ve narrowed down some of the biggest battles over the Christmas Period, so you don’t miss any of the Christmas Crackers! Make sure you’re following our horse racing tips, as we have all the action covered over the Christmas holiday.

King George VI Chase (26th, Kempton 3.05pm)

You couldn’t narrow down this contest to just two horses, as we’re being treated to perhaps the best race of the season thus far. There is so much intrigue surrounding each of the protagonists and it promises to be a classic renewal. Might Bite won the race twelve months ago and returns to defend his crown after a poor run in the Betfair Chase, where he finished behind several of these rivals. Connections were happy to write off that run, however, and I’d be happy too as well.

Much better can be expected today and a reversal with both Bristol De Mai and Native River looks on the cards. The former has never shown his best form away from Haydock and the latter looks vulnerable over the bare three-mile distance. The unbeaten Waiting Patiently lacks a recent run and that is a big worry, while Politologue has stamina to prove over the distance. Are you excited? Because I certainly am! You can read our full and in-depth King George VI Chase preview on site now.

Irish Christmas Hurdle (28th, Leopardstown 1.50pm)

Faugheen ended last season with one of the best performances of his career, winning his first attempt of the three-mile distance when slamming the Stayers’ Hurdle winner Penhill. He returned this campaign over the two-mile distance and was hugely disappointing, but stepping back up in trip is very interesting and we’ll learn a lot about his Festival claims here.

That said, he’s going to have to produce an impeccable performance to be defeating Apple’s Jade, who landed another Grade 1 success at Fairyhouse earlier this month. She slammed a reappearing Supadundae and stepping up to three miles holds no fears for Gordon Elliott’s star mare. These two locking horns is a mouthwatering prospect, and I’ll be praying to see them both in the final declarations.

Savills Chase (28th, Leopardstown 3.00pm)

We’ve been waiting, and waiting, for the return of the RSA Chase winner Presenting Percy, and we might finally see him at Leopardstown on Friday. He’s entered into the Grade 1 Savills Chase, with connections citing a need to get him race ready over the festive period. He’s one of the main contenders for this year’s Gold Cup and although he should come on plenty for whatever he does, it’ll still be disappointing if he can’t get the job done if taking up the entry. He’ll face no easy task, however, with Down Royal Champion Chase winner Road To Respect ready to push him all the way.

Ryanair Hurdle (29th, Leopardstown 2.30pm)

It’s been perhaps the most frustrating part of this year’s National Hunt season, and the puzzling campaigning of Samcro continues. He’s entered into the two-mile Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday and you’d have to feel this is the last chance saloon for him at this trip if he can’t get the job done. He did face Buveur D’Air last time and ran with credit, but things don’t get much easier here, as he faces the Champion Hurdle second Melon. Willie Mullins’ six-year-old lacks a recent run, but he won on return twelve months ago and will really test Samcro’s metal if they both lineup.

Mullins has plenty entered, however, and the potential return of Laurina adds further intrigue into what already looks an incredible contest. She was unbeaten in four starts last campaign, ending off with a facile Grade 1 success at Fairyhouse in April. She’d be facing the boys for the first time if taking up this assignment, and we’ll be learning plenty about her if she takes her chance.

Our racecard section has all the action covered over the festive period, so make sure you’re checking the entries!

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