Dear Santa,

Haven’t you been good to us, and it’s not even fully Christmas. Forgive us for getting ahead of ourselves, we’ve gone and opened our presents – (racecards) and look what we got…

Allaho v Bravemansgame v Gerri Colombe. Constitution Hill on parade. Top novice chasers and hurdlers taking each other on at Leopardstown and Limerick, the chasing Marine Nationale revealed, Grade 1 champions, Galopin Des Champs, State Man and who knows what ‘surprises’ the maiden hurdles throw up.

So much to savour. You feel like A.P McCoy once just said in his riding days, fast forward these two days of Christmas malarky and get to Tuesday.

The one big thing this year, in a season where we see horses so infrequently before Cheltenham, is that the clues here should be genuine. All horses are fit and the going at all meetings is decent. Much more like what Cheltenham in March may offer.

The King George will remain the Christmas highlight and with three Irish-trained challengers, it’s even more fascinating.


It’s perhaps no surprise that Gordon Elliott has opted to go here with Gerri Colombe. His jumping and ability in a faster-paced race, the one possible flaw so far, will be tested.

And Don Cossack, to whom his career bears some resemblance, went to Kempton.

In Gerri's favour, he has had three novice races in Britain.

Allaho has that one three-mile win in a dominant performance in a high quality Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup on good to yielding ground in April 2022. Though he missed a season and had been at the top for years, he is still only rising 10.

Cue Card and Vautour who fought out the 2015 running were similar horses in that short of three miles may have been their best. Cue Card at nine is the oldest winner in the last 11 years.

Bravemansgame’s smooth jumping is made for Kempton where he impressed last season and is said to be coming in to the race in excellent form by his trainer. He won on soft here last year and softer ground could test Allaho more.

And what to make of Shishkin? Will the Christmas atmosphere ignite or turn off the now quirky customer. If you were guaranteed a run, he could be the value here with pace looking assured.

The Grade 1 Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices' Chase is a proper tasty appetiser. England, France and Ireland. You’d love to see Klassical Dream here, though the fear remains he could stand off too far at one. Hermes Allen was impressive in the end at Newbury but he could lack scope at pace while how Il Est Francais gets on will be intriguing.

It's a shame no Irish runner travels to take on Constitution Hill and at least Paul Nicholls will always have a crack.

So who are the best bets? Three to be added in here when the final entries come through to us on Saturday morning.