The Festive Period always throws-up plenty of fizzers and flops, and it’s always worth taking a good look at the best of the action with a view to pinpointing possible future winners of some of the season’s big events.
Tea For Two proved a festive fizzer as he jumped brilliantly to reward the likeable and talented Lizzie Kelly with the first grade-1 winner ever ridden by a female jockey in England. The way he travelled and jumped suggests he could take much higher order in the chasing ranks, though it’s worth noting he’s yet to win left-handed. The festive flop in this race was Native River who, having been sent-off favourite, didn’t look like he enjoyed the tight turns. A return to a more galloping track may well see him in a better light though.
The Christmas Hurdle was won easily by Faugheen, and his victory suggested he has little to fear from the English Champion Hurdle hopes with the New One 7-lengths behind – definitely a festive fizzer!
The King George was a fizzer in its own right, and only if Don Cossack had jumped the last could it have been more exciting. Winner Cue Card, runner-up Vautour and Don Cossack could all meet in the Gold Cup – and all I can say is bring it on. Cue Card and Vautour have both won twice at the Cheltenham Festival, and it’s just a question of whether either lasts the extra distance – which on good ground, I think they will.
The most impressive winner on Boxing Day though had to be Douvan in the Racing Post Novices Chase, as he pulverised Sizing John by more than he had over hurdles. Douvan absolutely oozed class – and this festive fizzer’s odds for the Arkle were quickly crushed into 4/5 from 2/1.
This epic battle between festive fizzers Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy was what makes punters love National Hunt Racing and, whilst some have knocked the fact that they finished so close together, I think both proved they’re nearly back to their best in giving weight and a beating to both Vibrato Valtat and Somersby. Conditions probably favoured Sire De Grugy, so I wish it was the Champion Chase tomorrow as the 9/2 each-way about Sprinter Sacre would look an absolute steal – especially as Un De Sceaux proved a festive flop when falling in Ireland.
The Lexus Chase cut-up because of the heavy ground, and many have crabbed Don Poli for finishing only a short distance in from of First Lieutenant. However, that horse has improved with each run this season, whilst Don Poli looks sure to prefer better ground and the longer distance of the Cheltenham Gold Cup – neither flopped or fizzed!
No More Heroes again suggested that he might be on his way to being Gordon Elliot’s next star, and he fizzes past his rivals in the 3-mile Neville Hotel Novices Chase. There doesn’t look to be any need to back him at 4/1 for the RSA yet though.
The final mention goes to Nicholls Canyon who might not have impressed all with his 2-length defeat of Identity Thief in the Ryan Air Hurdle, but he certainly looks the horse most likely to give his stablemate Faugheen a race in the Champion Hurdle and, as he’s only just turned 6, this classy flat-horse could still have plenty of improvement to come – fizzing nicely!
New Year’s Day
Seeyouatmidnight’s jumping had plenty of fizz in the Dipper Novices Chase and, if the ground came-up soft to heavy at the Cheltenham Festival, he could give some much lower-priced rivals plenty to think about.
We’ll finish with a couple of flops in the Relkeel Hurdle in Cole Harden and Whisper, however it might be worth remembering that both probably hated the heavy ground and, at 10/1 and 25/1 for the World Hurdle, they might offer some value at 10/1 and 25/1 respectively.