Bumper Christmas Selection Box!

Well, I've gone and done it, dear reader, I've decided to have a couple of days off! So, from tomorrow until somewhere just before the New Year, there'll be no blogging and little to no email communication. The Geegeez trail will briefly run cold. I hope that's ok with you, and suspect many of you will be far too tied up with little people and other sundry relatives getting in the way of your Racing Post and TV viewing... (no? just me then!)

But before I snuff out the candle I'm going to go through all the big races from a trends perspective. So, below, you'll find the Feltham Novices' Chase, Christmas Hurdle, and King George VI Chase (all from Kempton on Boxing Day); the Coral Welsh National from Chepstow on 27th; and, the Lexus Chase from Leopardstown on 28th. If I don't find a winner from that quacking quintet, I may hang up my virtual pen! (Don't worry, I won't really...!)

So lets get quacking!


First then, the Feltham Novices' Chase, won in the last decade by such up and comers as Bacchanal, Jair du Cochet, Darkness and Joe Lively. What you'll instantly notice there is that it's not much of a trial for Cheltenham.

Kempton is about as far removed from Chelters as is possible to imagine: suburban, right-handed, flat, a test of speed. So whatever wins these three races, I'd be cautious of steaming in to back the beast for a championship event in the Cotswolds in March.

The trends for the race are thus:

- 9 out of 10 winners were 5-7 years old (the exception being last year's winner Joe Lively, the first in his age group since 1985!). Interestingly, three of the eight declared are eight year olds. I'll reluctantly strike them out, in the hope that this year's winner doesn't perpetuate a new emerging trend.

- 7 out of 10 winners ran in Graded company last time out. That excludes all bar Breedsbreeze and Hold Em.

With a 16 length verdict over Breedsbreeze last time out already in the back pocket, strong preference is for Paul Nicholl's young buck Breedsbreeze. That'll barely pay for the Paxo to go up the turkey though!


Onwards. Next up, the Stan James Christmas Hurdle. Again, despite the previous winner roster being packed with quality, there are no Cheltenham heroes amongst Straw Bear, Harchibald, Intersky Falcon, Geos and Dato Star.

This year's contest features one or two of the 'B List' for the Champion Hurdle, but is unlikely to shake that market up a great deal. The trends tell us this:

- 8 of the last 10 (indeed the last 8) winners were 5 or 6 years old.
- 8 of the last 10 winners were officially rated 160 or better
- 7 of the last 10 winners won last time out
- 8 of the last 10 winners came from the front two in the betting

Also, the Irish have won 3 out of the last four runnings; and the Fighting Fifth hurdle was the previous destination for no fewer than six of the last ten winners.

So, if we apply all that to this year's field, we note the following:

Pierrot Lunaire is too young (4yo), and he fell last time out; Aitmatov, Harchibald and Straw Bear are too old (though the last two are previous winners, and the first named is an Irish challenger).

Blue Bajan, Khyber Kim, Leslingtaylor, Pierrot Lunaire and Snap Tie are not good enough (rated below 160).

This leaves Nicky Henderson's pair, Afsoun and Punjabi. As a previous course and distance winner, who also won the Fighting Fifth last time out, Punjabi (nap) looks nailed on, although again - at around evens - he's not going to make us fat (that's what the trifle's there for!).


Now to the big one: the Stan James King George VI Chase. Hopefully with a few bonus shekels from the 'undercard', we're now ready to play our hand in the biggie.

Curiously, the Cheltenham Gold Cup has proven an excellent pointer to this race with past alumni Kauto Star, Kicking King, Best Mate and See More Business all winning here AFTER winning the Gold Cup the previous season. Moreover, Edredon Bleu also won a championship race at HQ (Queen Mother Champion Chase) prior to his victory here.

Let's have a look at the stats. Bear in mind that the last four years have seen two 'repeaters' in Kauto and Kicking, the former bidding for a three-timer on Friday.

- 9 out of 10 were aged 9 or younger. Indeed, Edredon Bleu was the only 'senior' to win in almost twenty years. I'll wave a fond adieu to golden oldies, Mont Misere, Our Vic and the rejuvenated Snoopy Loopy.

- 7 of the last 10 winners were rated 165 or higher (would be 8 if Francois Doumen's brilliant First Gold had a UK rating). Not this time then for Air Force One, Albertas Run (very disappointing this season thus far), Briareus, or Hennessey winner Imperial Commander.

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- With the exception of Kicking King the year the race was run at Sandown (and therefore the trends are diluted a little), all of the other nine winners in the last decade won last time out. Scratch Exotic Dancer, Kauto Star (...), Tamarinbleu, Voy Por Ustedes and War of Attrition.

We now have a problem in that there are no horses left! No matter, let's consider some other stats and then see where we are:

Aside from Teeton Mill, all the other nine previous winners had at least one Grade 1 win to their name. Qualifiers on this angle are Air Force One, Albertas Run, Kauto, Our Vic, Snoopy, Tamarinbleu, Voy Por and War of Attrition.

I couldn't back Alberta currently; War of Attrition is past his best by a margin; Snoopy Loopy looks too old (and may be taken off his feet by these); and, Air Force One might not be quite good enough.

That leaves me with Kauto Star, Our Vic, Tamarinbleu, and Voy Por Ustedes. In a race that has frequently fallen to the front two in the betting (8 of the last 10 winners), I will go ignore KS and VPU who currently occupy those market positions, in search of a spot of each way value.

Tamarinbleu finished 2nd to Snoopy Loopy in the Betfair Chase last time, when Kauto famously fell at the final fence. The last three winners of the King George had finished on the podium in that race, and Tam is entitled to come on for the run, which was his seasonal debut. Although soundly beaten last season at Aintree, I reckon he'll run a big race here. His 'catch me if you can' front running style is also well suited to the demands of the race.

My other against the field is Our Vic. Second in the race last year, behind Kauto, he avenged that defeat later in the season at another flat track, Aintree. Assuming his form is closely aligned with that of the former best chaser on the planet (who may now be in regression), then 10/1 is a very fair each way ticket.

So, each way a pleasure, sir, on David Pipe's duo, Tamarinbleu and Our Vic.


Next up it's the Coral Welsh National, a marathon slog around the Welsh border countryside. Three and three quarter miles in the soft, on the vast exposed Chepstow track is a harsh examination of jumping and staying, and I expect few to be fighting at the finish.

The statistics say this:

- Last ten winners all aged six to nine years. Alas, this doesn't help at all!

- Apart from the very high class Gold Cup hopeful (for me at least!), Halcon Genelardais, no horse has carried more than 10-09 to victory here in the past decade.

- 10 out of 10 winners had finished in the first four last time out. However, only 3 out of 10 won last time out.

Paul Nicholls and Nigel Twiston-Davies are the trainers to follow here, although the Alners also have a good record, and so does Venetia Williams.

I can't select all their horses, so I'm going to put my neck on the blog and - incredibly - agree with Gavin's ante-post tip, Beat The Boys. Gavin tipped him up at 20/1 way back on 5th December, and he's now a best priced 16's (bigger in the win market on the exchanges). He looks a cracking each way tilt.

I'll weigh in also with Paul Nicholls' Officier de Reserve, who is a very likely type on trends, despite being unluckily carried out by another nag last time.

Curiously, given they go 6/1 the field, I'm quite confident of a payout here!


Lastly, in the racing melee on the telly, the Lexus Chase will be run on Sunday over in Ireland. This is what recent evidence suggests in relation to this contest:

- 8 out of 10 winners were aged 8 or less
- Four of the last five winners (since the race became a Grade 1) were rated 170 or more, with the other one (The Listener) being the exception.

The race looks below standard this term, with very few of the five day entries anywhere near the 170 bar.

Taking out the 9yo+ brigade, the likely lads are Exotic Dancer and Neptune Collonges. The former is also entered in the King George, but if he runs over in Ireland (as the betting suggests he will), 11/2 with Sportingbet looks an each way bet to nothing (cue a 4th place finish!).

So there you have it, my five to play and hope they pay. Actually, there's seven, so - if pushed - I'll take Tamarinbleu over Our Vic, and Beat The Boys over Officier de Reserve.


A quick Project Betfair update. Although the selection won yesterday, it failed to qualify due to the price stipulation. Today sees two possible candidates go to post:

2.15 Brenin Cwmtudu

3.00 Lithaam


Before I close, a bizarre request if I may. Can I please ask you to click the link below if your surname begins with a letter in the range A-M?


(The reason being that if enough of you, but not too many, click the link, I will get into the top 15 places for this article, which means more people will end up at this 'ere blog and hopefully be directed to a few Quistmas Quackers).


And finally, as my mates The Ronnies would say, it just remains for me to thank you all enormously for your readership, feedback and good wishes over the last few months (yes, unbelievably, Geegeez has only been in existence since early September!).

And, of course, to wish you a Christmas blessed with sanity amid the madness; winners amid the losers; and love, food and wine aplenty.


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2 replies
  1. ray says:

    i love crowded house, but feel split enz were even better unfortunately it is not in the jeans for liam finn had done little of note

  2. ray says:

    crowded house are a very good and, but split enz were a great band. unfortunately, it is not in the jeans, for liam finn has done little, except pander to the critics.

    im sure there must be an easier and quicker way to post a comment

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