We’ve got daily tips from our resident horse racing expert, Alan Kelly.
Alan Kelly’s Horse Racing Tips for Saturday, 9th December, 2023
Weather permitting, the ITV Racing cameras will cover nine races on Saturday afternoon.
There are five from Sandown Park, including the Tingle Creek, the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, and the rearranged Fighting Fifth Hurdle, plus four races from Aintree racecourse, including the Becher Chase, run over Aintree’s big fences at 2:05pm.
Nap of the Day - Impose Toi (2:25pm Sandown) - 5/2 with William Hill*
Nicky Henderson’s rapidly improving young hurdler looks an exciting prospect for some of the valuable handicaps this season and can continue his progression with a victory in this £60k contest.
1:15pm Sandown, 2m - Love Envoi (w/o Constitution Hill)
This rearranged Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a good opportunity for the outstanding hurdler of the day - Constitution Hill - to kick-start what promises to be another exciting campaign for Nicky Henderson’s charge.
The race for second place should concern the two mares, LOVE ENVOI and You Wear It Well, with the former, unbeaten on all three visits to the course, getting the nod.
1:30pm Aintree, 2m 4f - Brave Seasca
Venetia Williams’ top weight BRAVE SEASCA was a big disappointment on his reappearance when finishing a well-beaten last of the six runners in Exeter’s Haldon Gold Cup last month. A strong fancy for that Grade 2 limited handicap, Charlie Deutsch’s mount is now running off a mark 1lb lower than when easily winning this race 12 months ago.
I am prepared to give the eight-year-old another chance on his return to the scene of his best performance to date and with the stable still in decent form.
In receipt of almost two stone, Sandy Thomson’s bottom weight Donna’s Double is feared most.
1:50pm Sandown, 1m 7 1/2f - Unexpected Party (Next Best)
Desperately unlucky when unseating jockey Brendan Powell with Cheltenham’s Grade 2 Arkle Trial at his mercy last time, Joe Tizzard’s JPR One had put in an exhibition round of jumping up to the point of stumbling at the last and deserves to head the betting for this Grade 1 contest. However, at the prices, I just prefer the claims of the Dan Skelton-trained UNEXPECTED PARTY.
This will be the ninth start over fences for the grey son of Martaline, who can put his greater experience to good use following a number of serious tests since going over the bigger obstacles. On his reappearance, Ciaran Gethings’ mount took the scalp of the highly-regarded Knappers Hill at Chepstow before finishing a creditable fifth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
The eight-year-old was let down by some far from fluent jumping in that competitive contest and is sure to be better suited by this smaller field and less frantic pace.
2:05pm Aintree, 3m 2f - Ashtown Lad & Now Where Or When (Each Way) (Longshot)
With the 162-rated Coko Beach heading the weights for this race over the big fences, there is a bit of a lop-sided look to this 3m 2f contest, with five of the 14 contenders running from out of the handicap. Dan Skelton’s ASHTOWN LAD, winner of the race 12 months ago, has clearly been trained with a repeat bid in mind and is only 2lb higher than last year.
Harry Skelton’s mount ran too badly to be true in the Topham earlier in the year and almost certainly needed his first run of the season when pulled-up in Wincanton’s Badger Beer Chase last month. There will be no excuses for the nine-year-old on this occasion, and I expect a much better effort from Ashtown Lad, who has clearly been laid out for this race for some time.
Of those at a double-figure price, NOW WHERE OR WHEN (e.w.), one of two runners for the Stuart Crawford stable, out of his depth in the Grade 2 Fortria Chase on his reappearance, is the most interesting at odds of 14/1 and worth a saver with most bookmakers going 4 or even 5 places.
2:25pm Sandown, 2m - Impose Toi (Nap)
Following the disappointing efforts put up by both Jet Powered and Under Control at Newbury last Saturday, I have to admit to being a bit wary regarding the claims of the Nicky Henderson-trained IMPOSE TOI (Nap) in this two-mile contest.
Hopefully, the Impose Toi will turn up who created such a big impression when winning a 17-runner novices’ handicap at the Paddy Power Gold Cup meeting at Cheltenham, as Nico de Boinville’s mount looked an exciting prospect for some of the valuable handicap hurdles run over the next few months.
It is no surprise that the handicapper has put the five-year-old up 10lb for that win at Prestbury Park. But even a revised rating of 131 may have underestimated the ability of the JP McManus-owned gelding.
Of the selections’ rivals, the most feared is David Pipe’s Jilaijone, who has run well in defeat on all four starts this season.
2:40pm Aintree, 2m 1f - Max Of Stars
An informative Listed juvenile hurdle which poses more questions than answers.
A tentative vote goes to the Ollie Pears-trained MAX OF STARS, who finished clear of the rest when trying to concede 3lb to Gordon Elliott’s talented filly Wodhooh at Newbury last week.
3:00pm Sandown, 1m 7 1/2f - Boothill (without Jonbon)
As with Constitution Hill, this Grade 1 chase should prove fairly straightforward for Champion Chase second favourite Jonbon.
Harry Fry’s BOOTHILL impressed me with both of his victories at Ascot last month and the mount of Jonathan Burke, with doubts surrounding the other three contenders, can follow the favourite home.
3:15pm Aintree, 2m 4f - Bashers Reflection (Each Way)
A wide-open 2m 4f handicap hurdle to end Aintree’s card, the each-way vote going to the Ben Case-trained BASHERS REFLECTION (e.w.).
Harry Bannister’s mount won’t mind if the ground continues to ease and, despite running off a career-high mark of 121, could still prove one step ahead of the handicapper.
3:35pm Sandown, 3m 4 1/2f - Broken Halo (Each Way)
Running off a mark only 1lb higher than when winning a valuable handicap chase at Haydock around this time last year, the Venetia Williams-trained Fontaine Collonges would take plenty of beating if able to repeat that level of form following wind surgery during the summer and after disappointing on his final two starts of last season.
Three of the 10 runners are also declared for the Coral Welsh Grand National Trial at Chepstow this afternoon, so the race’s complexion could change when running plans become clearer. One horse who looks sure to run his race is BROKEN HALO (e.w.) from the Paul Nicholls stable, a dual winner on the course and last seen finishing 12th in the bet365 Gold Cup on the last day of the season.
A winner on ground ranging from good to heavy, Lorcan Williams’ mount gets the each-way vote in the belief that some bookmakers will still be offering three places if fewer than eight horses go to post.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.
About Alan Kelly
A passionate follower of horse racing for over 50 years, Alan has enjoyed a 40-year career in the betting industry, 28 of which he spent running his own betting shop as an owner/manager.
A successful punter with a keen eye for value, Alan has had many betting highlights down the years, including a Scoop 6 win and has shown a consistent profit in the battle with bookmakers since joining Freebets.com in 2008.
You can follow Alan on Twitter for more racing insight.