|Sunday 1st December 2013|
December's terrific jumps action has much to commend it and as long as the winter weather stays in its box and leaves the jumping alone, the month's tasty fare is book-ended by two championship races that seem sure to bring out the very best in National Hunt racing.
It is to be hoped that Nicky Henderson, Sprinter Sacre's trainer, has got his horses sorted out by then because some of the yard's high-flyers have run dreadful races on their seasonal debuts. Bob's Worth and Long Run are the two obvious examples, and their poor runs were not made easier by some puzzling explanations by their trainer for their respective defeats. Apparently 'photograph evidence' excused Long Run's awful effort at Wetherby while Bob's Worth's 40 length defeat at Haydock was blamed on the flat track which seems to make no sense at all when a horse has been beaten so comprehensively.
The best of the jumps action moves to Cheltenham on December 14 for the International Hurdle and this year's renewal should be a shoo-in for The New One despite the fact that his stable has not been among the winners of late. The New One should be ready to slug it out for top hurdling onours up the famous Cheltenham hill.
On the same day Johns Spirit can go close in the December Gold Cup and perhaps give trainer Jonjo O'Neill a second consecutive success at a high-profile Saturday meeting at Prestbury Park. Johns Spirit was a game winner of last month's BetVictor Gold Cup, and looked to score that day with a little bit in hand after idling close home. Both Captain Conan and Rolling Aces represent powerful stables, and that progressive pair could well take a hand in the finish. Watch out too for French hurdling star Gemix, who is likely to cross the channel and prove hard to beat in the Relkeel Hurdle on the same day.
On December 26, Kempton Park stages an open-looking King George VI Chase where it is no surprise to see Cue Card heading the ante-post market. The seven-year-old was a joy to watch when getting the from-the- front tactics right to beat Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti with ease at Haydock last time. It was clearly the shorter distance and not a lack of fitness that beat him at Exeter on his previous start.
Finally, December rounds off its action with the Welsh National on December 28 with recent convincing Haydock scorers, Nuts N Bolts and Sydney Paget, holding sound prospects in an open-looking race and Garde La Victoire can send punters home happy by landing Newbury's Challow Hurdle on the same day.
Follow Malcolm Heyhoe's December selections with GG Alert.
[Archive November 2013]