by JOHN SMITH The jumps season is well under way and there are some big races to look forward to in December. Sandown will host the prestigious Tingle Creek Chase on Saturday December 9 and it looks set to be a mouthwatering contest, with some big names on show. Fox Norton is the ante-post favourite and warmed up nicely by taking the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on November 19. Colin Tizzard’s charge has yet to run at Sandown but has enjoyed an excellent year, finishing second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase while taking Grade 1 races at Aintree and Punchestown.
Douvan, who has yet to be seen this season, may well oppose and will hope to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Champion Chase. The seven-year-old has won many top-level races in his career and so could have a say in proceedings. Un De Sceaux took the race last year, beating Sire De Grugy by a length and followed it up by Ryanair Chase glory at the Festival and has been slated for an outing in Esher. Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old is prominent in the betting and for those who fancy a flutter, check out Bookmaker Advisor for all the best sites available.
The festive period is always packed full of top-class jump racing and they do not come much bigger than the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old Might Bite is a leading contender and has already got his season under way with victory in the Bet Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown. Nico de Boinville guided the son of Scorpion to an eight-length triumph but he will find the opposition a lot tougher on December 26. Thistlecrack won nine consecutive races between November 2015 and December 2016, including the 2016 World Hurdle, but injury ended his season after a second-place finish in the Cotswold Chase back at Prestbury Park. The nine-year-old is reported to be back to full fitness and ready for Festival glory next March but may also be entered in the King George, where he romped home by three-and-a-quarter lengths to score last year.
Faugheen the machine
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John went on to take the Punchestown Gold Cup in April before calling it a day for the season and has yet to reappear. Jessica Harrington’s seven-year-old will be among the market leaders if given the green light to head to Sunbury. The Christmas Hurdle takes place on the same day at Kempton and could see Henderson’s six-year-old gelding Buveur D’air make an appearance. The son of Crillon will be protecting a six-race unbeaten run that stretches back to April 2016 and includes wins in the Champion Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle.
Willie Mullins’ Faugheen may well oppose having already slaughtered the field to land the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
Having been off the track for so long, the son of Germany looked in imperious form and will hope to strike at the turn of the year with a trip to Cheltenham three months later in mind.