Saturday Horse Racing Preview & Tips – 23rd December – Yuletide Joy For Yala Enki

Yala Enki can cross your palm with silver at Ascot, reckons Seymour Biz.

Well, here we go for the last betting weekend before Christmas, and I have to say looking at the ante-post betting the bookmakers are looking particularly Scrooge-like. That said we have two excellent meetings on television, with some great races where the winners will take some finding. At Ascot we have the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle where Uknowhatimeanharry is the hot-pot and should carry all before him, while at Haydock, the Jack Berry House Hurdle has Limited Reserve among its front runners in the betting. Both of these look to have excellent chances but I will look further into the cards to try to get some value.

Before I evaluate these other races just a reminder about Might Bite on Boxing Day, but I am afraid the value has gone from his price since he was tipped in this column at the beginning of November at 7/2. The day after we have the Welsh National which gives a chance to Paul Nicholls’s Vicente. Beware The Bear could also run a big race after his victory at Newcastle earlier in the month, however let me move back to Saturdays racing to find some value for my readers and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

The 1.50 at Ascot is the My Pension Expert Handicap Chase, this looks a very open contest with a few unexposed horses in the race. I have a liking for Red Devil Star, tipped in this column two weeks ago when a non-runner, he just failed th get the better of Workbench last time at Sandown. I think he will strip fitter this time and reverse those placings. Monbeg River won by 16 lengths last time at Doncaster but his chaser Monsieur Co fell at the last making the distance look flattering. Casse Tete looks one to make the frame, not seen out since winning at Sandown in March, he is highly regarded by trainer Gary Moore. I will side with Red Devil Star to take this contest.

The Lavazza Silver Cup Handicap Chase, the 3.00 race at Ascot has some exciting horses entered and none more so than Yala Enki for Venetia Williams. He won the Tommy Whittle at Haydock last year, then went to Kelso and won there, he has been highly tried since. His latest run, third behind Beware The Bear, when he led till two out at the beginning of the month was an excellent prep race for this. He is one of Timeforms Fifty to follow and can justify that ranking – he has every chance. On Tour can also go well here after unseating last time at Newbury, he had won previously at Aintree on his seasonal reappearance, he has a fair chance and should make the frame. Go Conquer is favourite for the race having won over the course and distance last month and also will have a main chance if turning out for this, I will however stick with Yala Enki.

The last race on the Ascot card is the Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle at 3.35, where I will side again with Air Horse One. His third last time to Old Guard when only beaten three lengths was a very good effort and I think he can do better this time. That race was over 5 furlongs further than this and I think he wll improve from dropping back in distance. Elgin is a good horse but is looking a little high in the weights, so I think a bigger danger to the selection is Charli Parcs. He was second earlier in the month at Newbury and Nicky Henderson will have him spot on for this, he does however have a tendency to make mistakes at his hurdles but should make the frame. Air Horse One is the selection.

Over at Haydock, the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at 2.45 is as usual a highly combative event with some very good handicappers involved. Philip Hobbs has had a lousy December but he can bounce back with the top weight in this race. Three Faces West ran third last time at Cheltenham to Perfect Candidate, he hit three out which caused him to lose momentum and Richard Johnson was easy on him when beaten. He won over three miles here at Haydock in November when he had cheek pieces fitted for the first time and I am sure Hobbs would like to claim this important prize. A couple of others worth a mention are Full Irish, a Lingfield winner in November, and Catamaran De Seuil, who was very disappointing last time here at Haydock behind Chase The Spud. He is worth another chance. Go West Young Man is a lively outsider and Henry Daly will have him ready, he can make the frame.

Saturday Lucky 15
1.50 Ascot Red Devil Star
3.00 Ascot Yala Enki
3.35 Ascot Air Horse One
2.45 Hay  Three Faces West


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