Bobs Worth can bounce back in Leopardstown feature
THIS time of the year can be heaven or hell for punters and the jam-packed festive fixture list offers plenty of opportunities to win or lose as much money as you like.
But the good thing about racing at Christmas is the quality of the fare on offer -- today alone, we have six graded races across the cards in Ireland and Britain, including the Lexus Chase, the Christmas Hurdle and the Welsh Grand National.
At times like this, it's best not to spread yourself too thinly; concentrating on a single fixture or a small number of select races is the only way to go if you want to have a fighting chance of coming out on top against the layers.
At home, the Lexus Chase (2.55 Leopardstown) is shaping up to be a cracker, with the Gold Cup first and second Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs set to lock horns again in what should prove to be a major draw for the south Dublin venue.
It's a fascinating contest, with both animals on recovery missions: Bobs Worth finished tamely in sixth in the Betfair Chase last time, while Sir Des Champs fell at the third in the John Durkan at Punchestown.
By all accounts, Sir Des Champs came out of Punchestown unscathed and had previously showed plenty of character under pressure when winning the Punchestown Gold Cup at the expense of Long Run.
Considering that came on the back of a tough Gold Cup, he deserves plenty of respect and Mullins is sure to have him in tip-top shape this afternoon.
But as much as I like to see Irish horses do well, Nicky Henderson's Bobs Worth gets the vote at 7/4 in his first race outside Britain.
Haydock was a disappointment but it was clear five out that the Gold Cup winner was having an off day and Barry Geraghty gave him an easy time while the rest battled.
While I'm always cautious backing a horse following a poor run, I think everyone would agree that we didn't get to see the real Bobs Worth at Haydock and his trainer has said that a course like Leopardstown will suit better as it's a bit more galloping.
The Mouse Morris-trained First Lieutenant, which lost the Lexus by a head last year, is also on a recovery mission and is expected to bounce back following a poor run in the Jnwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal.
But he has been beaten fair and square in a couple of races by the market leaders and will need to improve quite a bit to turn around the form today.
Another Henderson runner, Kentucky Hyden (6/4), looks the pick of the bunch in the Grade One Coral.co.uk Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow (2.0). While beaten by an outsider in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial last time out at Cheltenham, the three-year-old is likely to improve as he gains more experience.
THE Sue Smith-trained Vintage Star has placed in 14 of his 18 races and, had you backed him each-way in all, you'd show a very healthy profit of 15pts. The reliable seven-year-old is back in action for the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow (2.35) and early odds of 14/1 don't seem too shabby for a horse which almost beat Hey Big Spender in his handicap debut at Newcastle last time. As a staying chaser, he's still unexposed and I reckon there's a good chance he's a couple of pounds better than his mark of 137.
1.45 Newbury: Timesremembered
1.50 Leopardstown: Solwhit
2.0 Chepstow: Kentucky Hyden
2.35 Chepstow: Vintage Star (e/w)
2.55 Leopardstown: Bobs Worth
Last week's winners
Carole's Spirit (2/1)
Reve de Sivola (9/4)
Willow's Saviour (10/1)