The King George V1 Chase is a huge Boxing Day occasion at Kempton Park but there is a decent meeting at Ascot today and some good jumps action at Haydock Park. There is no racing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so the racing is your last chance to boost your betting bank and help with the holiday expenses. The Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot (2.25pm) is a Grade 1 contest and Unowhatimeanharry is the best horse on form and ratings.
The Harry Fry trained runner graduated through the staying hurdle ranks last season. The horse was unbeaten leading up to the Cheltenham Festival but finished third in the stayer’s hurdle at the National Hunt meeting that matters most. Backers of Unowhatimeanharry gained some compensation with an impressive win at Punchestown in April and the horse is one of the highest rated hurdlers in training. A second successive Long walk Hurdle is on the cards this weekend.
This season Unowhatimeanharry has won a three-runner hurdle race at Aintree over 20 furlongs. Top Notch finished in third place 3 lengths behind the winner carrying eight pounds less. That horse is now novice chasing and is prominent in the betting for the novice events over fences at the Cheltenham Festival. Unowhatimeanharry stayed on well which is a good attribute for a stayer and all roads are leading to the Festival next March again. Nichols Canyon won the stayer’s championship race in 2017.
Lil Rockerfeller ran in all the big staying hurdles last season and usually finished behind the horse we are highlighting today. However, Lil Rockerfeller was only beaten by three-quarters of a length by Nichols Canyon at Cheltenham with Unowhatimeanharry a further three and a half lengths adrift. Despite that result Unowhatimeanharry is rated two pounds above Lil Rockerfeller on Racing Post figures. That variance can be confirmed at Ascot where Unowhatimeanharry can win the Long walk Hurdle.
The race after the Long Walk Hurdle is a handicap chase worth £100,000 which is not to be sniffed at around the festive period. In fact the race has the same prize fund as the Grade 1 hurdle previewed here and a field of 14 runners will go to post. Singlefarmpayment is of great interest carrying 11 stone two pounds and could reward favourite backers at a decent price. The horse’s run in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury three weeks ago suggests this race is winnable.
Singlefarmpayment was behind for most of the three miles, two furlongs race that was for 60 years known as the Hennessy. However, the horse made steady headway and was getting into contention four fences from home. Singlefarmpayment was staying on when falling at the next fence and about to run a huge race off 10 stone 8. It’s debatable whether a win would have transpired but Singlefarmpayment looked like making the frame behind high class horses in Whisper and Total Recall.
The Sodexo Graduation Chase (1.15pm) has a decent prize fund of £25,000 but it has attracted just three runners. More Of That continues to be an enigma but the horse won the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2014 and Adrien Du Pont was a classy hurdler. Coney Island makes the trip from Ireland and that could be a tip in itself. The horse finished just half a length behind Our Duke at Leopardstown last December and that is hot form. Our Duke disappointed first time out this season but made the Irish National look like a procession this April. The run in November from Our Duke was too bad to be true so Coney Island must be backed this time.