Ace up-and-coming trainer, Neil Mulholland, already finds himself on 67 National Hunt winners for the season, including three in bumpers, and the Northern Irishman is looking to make it a very merry Christmas by sending a team of 12 into battle on Boxing Day, with runners spread across a total of five meetings!
Two of his Christmas crackers make it into my festive Yankee, a bet spearheaded by unbeaten Solighoster at Huntingdon (3.40pm).
A chestnut by Loup Solitaire, he won his sole point in Ireland and then did the business in a canter at Newcastle on his rules debut, giving promising amateur, James King, an armchair ride.
King, son of much-loved journo Andrew, unsurprisingly retains the mount for Solighoster’s second bumper, and though the pair are up against contenders from top stables such as Henderson and Pauling, this horse is one to take a long look at.
Huntingdon will suit him and he looks much more appetising than turkey sandwiches ever could, on offer at 5/1 with either Paddy Power or the Betfair Sportsbook.
Also miles away from the razzmatazz of Kempton Park, Mulholland looks to notch a third win on the bounce with the tough and gutsy Mrs Burbidge, who arrives in the opener at Fontwell (12.05pm) on the back of wins at Southwell and Uttoxeter.
The in-form mare, a daughter of Pasternak, has the benefit of the excellent Ciaran Gethings, a member of Philip Hobbs’s extensive team’, in this conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle, and she is a clear pick in a decidedly winnable looking event.
Elsewhere, on a day where there are a total of 11 meetings spread around Britain and Ireland, one who could go very well at big odds is the Donald McCain-trainer The Pierre Lark, who lines up for the first time in a handicap, taking his chance in the 0-100 novices’ handicap Hurdle at Market Raspberry (2.55pm).
Ridden by a promising talent in the shape of Harry Stock, a conditional claiming seven pounds who is operating at a 20% strike-rate (6 winners) over hurdles in the early stages of his career, The Pierre Lark has gained some great experience in straight novices, and might now be able to use that prior knowledge to good use in a weak race.
He looks generously priced at 16/1 each way with either Coral or Paddy.
Lastly, a slightly more high profile clash than those mentioned above is Cue Card against Thistlecrack in Kempton Park’s 32 Red King George VI Chase (3.15pm), a clash to make jumping fans drool…
Not that it really matters who wins as long as both superstars come back safe and hopefully with reputations enhanced, but on the premise that Josses Hill may take on Thistlecrack for the lead and force him into a blunder or two, I’m backing the miles more experienced campaigner, the wily, the brilliant Cue Card, to pounce late on and win it again.
Monday’s best bets:
2.55 Market Rasen – Rand Farm Park Holiday Kids Club Novices’ Handicap Hurdle – 3 The Pierre Lark (each way) @ 16/1 (Paddy Power)
3.15 Kempton Park – 32 Red King George VI Chase – 1 Cue Card (win) @ 5/4 (Ladbrokes)
3.40 Huntingdon – Keep Calm And Carry On Intermediate Open NH Flat Race – 1 Solighoster (win) @ 5/1 (Paddy Power)