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Sunday 4 December 2016

Seabass already made my Christmas

Vautour is one of the excellent horses in the top quality field of the King George VI at Kempton (Racing Post)
Vautour is one of the excellent horses in the top quality field of the King George VI at Kempton (Racing Post)

The highlight of my week and Christmas was without doubt winning on Seabass at Thurles last Sunday.

With so much racing to come over the next week, that Thurles meeting wouldn't be a major thing for a lot of people but everyone knows about my association with Seabass from the Grand National in 2012 and it was a fantastic result for everyone associated with him.

I hadn't partnered him on the track or won on him in a long time, so it was special to get the opportunity again and he has come out of the race well. He'll have options to run on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day so we'll see what happens next.

St Stephen's Day racing really is a massive day and I think we can all look forward to a class renewal of the King George at Kempton.

For a good few weeks now I have touched on just how many good staying chasers around this season there are and I was gutted for the Bradstocks to lose Coneyree for the season.

There are a lot of good horses still around, though, and we'll see plenty of them in the King George.

Obviously, this is a race that has been a big part of our family with Ruby having such a good association with Kauto Star and winning it five times.

It wouldn't surprise me if he won it again on Vautour, but it also wouldn't surprise me if Don Cossack won it, or Smad Place, or even Cue Card.

Vautour won at Ascot but there's going to be no hiding place around here with Smad Place going to buck out and make the running and set a real good, testing gallop.

It was up in the air whether he was going to run here or not and I'm delighted that he does because he didn't just win a Hennessy, he absolutely sluiced up and will be a big player on Saturday.

Cue Card is very good around a flat track like Kempton and so too is Don Cossack, but the fact that Don Cossack is battle-ready after two runs already this season means he is going to be the horse they all have to beat.

In my eyes, Faugheen has little to beat on the same card in the Christmas Hurdle and I think everyone will be disappointed if he doesn't win and put in an authoritative display while doing so.

There's so much to look forward to and I'll definitely be relying on the SkyPlus to catch up on it all and watch it again but the Racing Post Novice Chase should be a great race.

I know some people will look at it and think there's only four runners but it's still a cracking little contest.

Douvan proved last season that he is a very good horse and he was good when winning over fences first time out around Navan, but he'll have to be very good to beat Jessica Harrington's horse Ttebbob.

He has won at Thurles, and at Navan a fortnight ago, proving he is a very good horse.

Puppy Power will bounce out and go a real good gallop on him and I imagine Paul Townend will try and stalk him and take it up in the straight, but Ttebbob will make it some test.

Mistake

I expect Douvan to win, like most people, and that is why he is favourite, but he can't afford to make any sort of mistake because you won't get away with that with a horse like Ttebbob setting the pace and if Puppy Power was celebrating another Grade One on Saturday night it wouldn't be a massive surprise to me.

Willie runs a very good horse called Footpad in the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle but this is a very good race with Colin Kidd's Rashaan and Gavin Cromwell's Jer's Girl.

It's going to be an exciting Christmas Day for Colin and Gavin who will go to Leopardstown full of hope and with a real live chance of training a big Grade Two winner, and that's fantastic for racing.

People thought Rashaan's wins at Roscommon and Listowel were a fluke but when he bolted up at Fairyhouse, giving all the weight away to the second horse, he proved that wasn't the case and I think whatever finishes in front of him on Saturday will have to earn it.

I go to Limerick on St Stephen's Day for two horses trained by Pat Fahy. I have enjoyed a good association with Pat over the years and it would be lovely to ride a winner for him on St Stephen's Day.

We won the bumper there with Stack The Deck a couple of years ago and Pat sends down a newcomer called Good To Flow for this year's race.

There are a few point-to-point winners in the field, but hopefully she can run well.

She is owned by the same syndicate that own Good As Gold, who I ride in the handicap hurdle.

The ground is heavy at Limerick and one thing anyone in racing will tell you is that there's nowhere in the world like Limerick when the ground is heavy, so it really will be a case of whatever handles the testing conditions best will come out on top.

I'm just hoping Good As Gold will enjoy it as she is a previous course winner, but on better ground.

Sunday is Paddy Power day at Leopardstown and Dad runs Rossvoss in the race.

There's a €150,000 prize so I don't need to tell you how competitive it will be, but for that money, you have to take your chance, so fingers crossed.

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