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Christmas menu full of tasty contests

THERE is no doubt that for some the best part about Christmas is the racing. Thousands wait all year to make an annual pilgrimage to Leopardstown, Limerick or Down Royal.

For months, trainers are either gearing towards a certain race or hoping their horse is good enough to run in the better ones around now, while punters love spotting those horses they've been keeping an eye on for a few months now.

This Christmas, unlike last, the weather is not going to have any effect on proceedings so we should be looking forward to a clear run from Monday through to Thursday.

Leopardstown has everything from Cheltenham Champion Hurdle contenders to Gold Cup hopefuls and a rake of good novices in between, as well as one on the most lucrative handicaps of the season, the Paddy Power Chase on Tuesday.

Ireland's most successful trainer Dermot Weld likes to send a few notable raiders up to Foxrock now that the flat season is over, while the Willie Mullins battalion is sure to be as dangerous as ever.

We'll have the odd British raider, but certainly not as many as there should be considering the good prize money on offer, and there will be a whole host of murmurs for fancied ones in the bumpers which punters will have to digest carefully.

The Evening Herald has the full cards for St Stephen's Day in this evening's edition as well as the views from leading jockey Katie Walsh. Latest news will also be available from www.twitter.com/HeraldRacing as well as www.twitter.com/katiewalsh9.

Day one at Leopardstown will feature one of the most exciting prospects of the week as Tony Martin's Bog Warrior lines up in the big race of the day, the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase.

The Gigginstown Stud-owned seven-year-old was Martin's first ever Grade One winner when winning the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse and the Meath-based trainer had no problem waxing lyrical about his current stable star.

"In time you'd be thinking of races like the Lexus Chase and the Hennessy," he said. "He's just a real proper horse, a right one."

Bog Warrior is unbeaten in all his completed starts and also on Drinmore day earlier this month his trainer suggested: "Every day he runs he gets better.

"You won't see him on anything better than yielding to soft. We'll be minding him."

There is a lot to look forward to over the week but Bog Warrior is certainly one of the most intriguing.

Enjoy Christmas, but more importantly enjoy the superb racing on offer.