BRING on the New Year and all the punting opportunities that come with it.
Our man Jack Keene has picked out his best bets on ITV and is hoping to kick off 2021 with a bang.
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This is usually a pretty quiet weekend, but with the rearranged Welsh National and a cracking Kempton card, there is loads to get stuck into.
Let's start at Kempton, where I fancy ERICK LE ROUGE (1.10 Kempton) to enhance his fantastic course record.
The Jane Williams-trained seven-year-old is 3-4 at the track, his only defeat coming when fourth in the Grade 2 Pendil.
He won this race last year off 134 with Lizzie Kelly claiming 3lb. He runs off 137 this time around, but Chester Williams is claiming 5lb so he is technically only a pound higher than 12 months ago.
He fell when held at Wincanton last time over a trip which was too far for him, but he showed up well for a long way and has undergone a wind op since.
This is by no means a cakewalk, and Espoir De Romay has some recent form with a very good horse on his CV. But Erick Le Rouge just loves it at Kempton and has slipped to a very tempting mark.
I'm going to have a stab at two in the Lanzarote, but my main fancy would have to be MISTY WHISKY (3.30 Kempton).
He has improved no-end since having a wind op over the summer, and she has won easily on her two starts this campaign.
There's no denying this is a big step up, but she is progressing at a rate of knots and gets in under a feather weight. Those down the handicap have a good record in this race, with five winners since 2010 having carried less than 11st.
Talented claimer Lorcan Murtagh takes off an additional 3lb, which is a nice bonus, and the shrewd Harry Fry has his horses in cracking nick at present.
I'll probably have a saver on SHANG TANG, too. He is a strong traveller who has a big chance is they good a good gallop here. I'm certain he's better than is official rating of 130.
Saturday selections (advised odds correct at time of writing)
1.10 Kempton – Erick Le Rouge 1pt WIN @ 5-1
3.10 Chepstow – Truckers Lodge 1pt EW @ 9-1
3.30 Kempton – Misty Whisky 1pt WIN @ 10-1
3.30 Kempton – Shang Tang 0.5pts EW @ 12-1
- (Column started August 6) rolling P&L: +27.8pts
And in the Welsh Grand National, I'll be having a few quid on TRUCKERS LODGE (3.10 Chepstow).
Paul Nicholls' nine-year-old was a fine second to Potters Corner in this race last season when he was having just his fourth start over fences.
He was undone by his inexperience down the back straight when losing crucial ground to the winner, but he kept on dourly up the straight to land the silver medal.
He went on to bolt up in the Midlands National over 4m on his favoured heavy ground under top conditional Lorcan Williams.
He has more weight to carry this time around, but he will be more streetwise and they will no doubt make more use of his proven stamina. And the fact he loves testing ground, while others will find it hard work, is a huge positive.
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