Horses to watch in December

December will see some of the top jumps stars emerge for festive glory and it looks set to be feast of racing, as always.

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Fox Norton is slated to make an early appearance in the month when Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase gets under way on Saturday, December 9.

Colin Tizzard’s charge is the ante-post favourite after taking the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on November 19, and will look to follow up Grade 1 wins at Aintree and Punchestown last season.

Douvan has yet to be seen this season but may well oppose and will hope for an improvement on his last outing in the Champion Chase.
Un De Sceaux beat Sire De Grugy by a length to win the race last year while also scoring in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival and will be among the favourites in Esher.

The King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day is arguably December’s biggest race and Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old Mite Bite is the current favourite having got his season under way with victory in the Bet Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown under Nico de Boinville.

Thistlecrack is the defending champion, winning by three-and-a-quarter lengths last year but has not been seen since finishing second behind Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham back in January.

Reports claim the nine-year-old is now back to full fitness, however, and ready for a crack at the King George before focusing on the Festival.
Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup winner Sizing John has yet to be seen this term but is sure to be a leading player if Jessica Harrington takes the seven-year-old to Sunbury.

Buveur D’air is one of the hottest properties in jumps racing at present after winning six straight races and is in line for a run in the Christmas Hurdle, also at Kempton on December 26.

The son of Crillon’s CV includes wins in the Champion Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle but he may find Willie Mullins’ Faugheen tough to handle if he is given the nod to race.

Having won the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown after such a long lay-off, the sky seems the limit for the son of Germany.

Rock The Kasbah is among the favourites to take the Welsh Grand National and, having already won three times at Chepstow, it is no surprise.

The seven-year-old won a novices’ chase in October last year before landing another in February 2017 and made it a hat-trick in Monmouthshire in last month’s toteexacta Handicap Chase.

Currently available around 14/1, the gelding should be involved in the business end of proceedings, with American a likely opponent, and punters who fancy a flutter on this or any other race should check out the best bookmakers to sign up with.

Willie Mullins’ Nichols Canyon claimed the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival and is touted for a crack at the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle alongside Unowhatimeanharry on December 28.

It was the latter who earned bragging rights last time they squared off in Punchestown’s Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle back in April – but just by a head – and a renewal of hostilities is eagerly awaited.

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