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Today’s Racing News: Will Jonbon cut the mustard at Ascot?

It’s Friday! As most finish up for the Christmas period today, our man Daryl Carter has been busy at work searching high and low for the festive season value for the days racing.

There’s plenty to get stuck into today for punters with five meetings across the country. All eyes will be on Ascot, where Jonbon puts his Supreme Novice Hurdle credentials on the line by taking on Knappers Hill in the Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle. Uttoxeter is our other jumps meeting today while Southwell, Dundalk and Kempton host all-weather action.

It’s a busy one, so let’s get cracking!

Money Talk – Ascot

Money Talk continues to highlight the Betfair Sportsbook big-money moves to keep you in the loop. This section highlights market moves between 1:00 am and 9:00 am.

12:35 Ascot – Shantou Master 12/1 into 13/2
14:20 Ascot – Colonel Mustard 10/1 into 7/1
15:30 Ascot – Doyouknowwhatimean 12/1 into 8/1

The morning market drifters !

Which horse is the Betfair Sportsbook market suggesting to Lay?

13:45 Ascot – Brave Seasca 9/4 OUT 3/1

Mark your card

The Betfair Sportsbook is paying extra places today!

In the 13:25 Richard Winterton Auctioneers Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter, trainer Alastair Ralph has a 27% strike rate over fences. He sends just the one runner there today in the form of the well-handicapped Billingsley 17.016/1, who is nine pounds below his last winning handicap mark and is down in grade.

In the 14:35 Aganto Novices’ Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter, trainer Jonjo O’Neill is profitable to back to the tune of ?30 for a ?1 level stake with handicap debutants. He saddles Manintheshadows 9.08/1.

In the 15:10 Low Cost Roofing Stoke Novices’ Handicap Hurdle, trainer Joe Pointing has a 100% (one for one) record with hurdlers at Uttoxeter and saddles his only runner of the day, three-year-old Gavin 5.59/2, who receives 15 pounds weight-for-age allowance.

At Kempton in the 17:15 Unibet New Instant Roulette Maiden Fillies’ Stakes, trainer Charlie Appleby saddles newcomer Makkari 2.47/5 and he has a 30% strike rate with his two-year-olds.

Trainer’s Michael and David Easterby travel 222 miles to Kempton for their only runner of the day in the 19:15 Racing TV Handicap, Ring Of Gold 3.02/1.

Trainer Nicky Henderson will look to land the 14:20 Howden Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle for the fifth time in the last ten years with Jonbon 1.910/11.

Ascot longshots

At Ascot in the 12:35 Howden Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, jockey Luca Morgan has a 50% strike rate when riding for the owners of Optimise Prime 21.020/1.

In the 13:10 Howden Maiden Hurdle at Ascot, jockey Ben Jones rides Money Spinner 41.040/1, and he has a 67% strike rate for trainer Phillip Hobbs when riding at Ascot.

Ben Jones will also ride The Cathal Don 51.050/1 for Seamus Mullins in the 13:45 Howden Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase, for which he has a 50% strike rate.

Horses for courses

This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today’s tracks and could be in with a chance today.

11:50 Southwell – Moonraker – Has won here five times (33%)
13:00 Southwell – Straitouttacompton – Has won here four times (50%)
13:35 Southwell – Tynecastle Park – Has won here six times (35%)
18:15 Kempton – Uzincso – Has won here six times (60%)

Weighted to go well

“Weighted to go well” highlights horses running that are more than 10lbs below their last winning handicap mark.

14:45 Southwell – Kraka – Has won off 61 runs off 47
19:15 Kempton – Born To Finish – Has won off 66 runs off 55

Form Watch

This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.

Trainer Ruth Jefferson has scored with two of her four runners in the last 14 days for a 50% strike rate. Today she saddles one runner at Uttoxeter, Lemon T 15.014/1 in the 14:35.

At Ascot, trainer Jamie Snowden has had four winners from his last 12 runners in the past 14 days for a 33% strike rate. He saddles Soldier Of Destiny 7.06/1 in the 13:10 and Dusky Days29.028/1 in the 15:30.

Furthest traveller

Today’s furthest traveller is trainer Paul Robson, and he has his first runner at Uttoxeter. He has made the 233-mile journey with his only runner of the day, Just Don’t Know 26.025/1, in the 14:35 Aganto Novices’ Handicap Chase.

His runner gets first-time cheek-pieces today on the back of an encouraging seasonal debut at Ayr, and his unexposed profile requires a second look today.

Race of the day

All eyes will be on the 14:20 Grade 2 Howden Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle where Supreme Novice Hurdle hope and expensive point to point purchase Jonbon will look to step out of brother Douvan’s shadow and lay a foundation of his own.



Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Jockey: Aidan Coleman
Age: 5
Weight: 11st 0lbs

It’s hard to believe that Jonbon will live up to the reputation of his brother Douvan who was an exceptional racehorse. Still, he has given the visual impression that he could be very useful after a runaway success at Newbury on hurdle debut.

He has now won a point to point, bumper and Maiden Hurdle, all in good style. However, his odds-on price tag is again far too short on the bare facts of what he has achieved, especially given this is the strongest contest he has contested to date in any sphere.

He undoubtedly has potential, and his trainer has a good record in this race, but it’s hard to suggest his current odds of 10/11 represent any value and improvement, whether fans of his like it or not, is required.



Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Harry Cobden
Age: 5
Weight: 11st 0lbs

Knappers Hill has looked very good indeed while still looking as though he is learning his trade. He is very straightforward, and he has now gone unbeaten in three bumper runs, and two hurdle runs.

He is the obvious value in the race, given his time figures and form are superior to the market leader, but you feel that talking about him in the same breath as the Supreme Novice Hurdle is a stretch.

He is a very likeable type, and Paul Nicholls has sent some useful horses to this race in the past.

He is very interesting.



Trainer: Mrs Lorna Fowler, Ireland
Jockey: Conor Orr
Age: 6
Weight: 11st 0lbs

Colonel Mustard represents Ireland and must be taken seriously if reproducing his runner-up effort in a Grade 1 contest at Punchestown at the back end of last season.

That performance was a big step forward and is the strongest piece of form in the race, and it was encouraging to see him score going away on seasonal return in a Maiden Hurdle at Galway in October.

He has been given a rating of 144 by the English handicapper which looks a little high, but far surpasses that of his rivals in today’s contest, and he is entitled to improve for his first run of the season.

His jumping can be sloppy at times, but he has very valid claims, especially given the Irish dominance in recent times in this division.

Big race verdict

COLONEL MUSTARD has excellent claims, and at the morning odds, he is hard to ignore. He has the strongest form in the race, with his Champion Novice Hurdle second at Punchestown behind Echoes In Rain on his final start last season.

He made an encouraging return to action when scoring in a Maiden Hurdle at Galway, and there were lots to like about that run despite not having to be at his best to win. The Irish could be about to lay down the law yet again in this division, and Colonel Mustard’s profile has an upwardly mobile look to it. Jonbon and Knappers Hill both have considerable potential and are not passed over lightly with preference for the latter who I have had a couple of quid on, but the bare form suggests they both need to improve to beat the selection.

Timeform offer up three of their best from Kempton

Timeform’s Andrew Asquith highlights a Nap and Next Best selection at Kempton on Friday.

Paul Nicholls gives Betfair his thoughts on a busy day at Ascot

Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls provides the insight on his seven runners at Ascot on Friday including his best chance in the penultimate race on the card…

Thyme is better than just all White

Thyme White looks a good bit of each-way value in the 13:45 Howden Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase on the back of a promising debut run over fences at Wincanton when poorly positioned to run down winner Amarillo Sky.



Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Harry Cobden
Age: 5
Weight: 11st 6lbs
OR: 134

He was keen in the early part of the race on his first start for 214 days at Wincanton, but he jumped with accuracy and fluency as one would expect from this yard. However, he was poorly positioned at the rear of the field, having been reigned back at a few of his fences when making up ground on his rivals.

The race turned into a sprint on the turn for home, which caught him flat-footed, but it was immensely encouraging the way he hit the line.

He is entitled to improve for that outing and holds the strongest hurdle form in the race from last term. His handicap mark of 134 looks well within reach on balance, and he is sure to prove a better chaser than hurdler with natural improvement.

That first run of the season came after a “rushed wind operation”, and the drying ground is a big positive. This stiff track should suit him, and this is only his second start in a Class 3 race, having contested stronger events than this over hurdles last season.

Red Rookie looks the one to beat on the back of an excellent run at Chepstow last time out, but Thyme White should prove very hard to kick out of the frame with a clear round, so he represents the value in the race.

Final Word

It’s all doom and gloom when looking at the racing headlines in the papers. One headline reads: “Jockey Tom Joseph banned for at least a year after positive cocaine test.” The following story reads: “Oisin Murphy relinquishes his licence after covid breach.”

I fully understand that these stories need to be reported and need to be made public, but to headline the trade paper with them is like a tree surgeon cutting the branch they are sitting on.

Do we not have enough bad press from the outside that we now need to headline it ourselves? If you are new to racing and go onto the trade paper website for the first time, what on earth are you going to think?

It’s not about covering up these types of stories, but at least knock them down the page a bit rather than plastering it all over the front cover.

There are plenty of feel-good stories in racing every day to put on the front cover to enhance racing’s image, and it would be nice if we were all rowing in the same direction rather than going around in circles.

Until tomorrow, be lucky.

Follow Daryl Carter on Twitter @DarylCarter7

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