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There is a plethora of top-class racing action this weekend
  1. Horse Racing

Weekend Racing Preview: Nicholls bandwagon has Classic claims

It's been a superb few weeks for Britain's champion trainer Paul Nicholls, winner of all three Grade 1 contests on home soil since Boxing Day.

The Ditcheat supremo charges into another weekend with plenty of chances to get on the scoresheet and amongst them is Threeunderthrufive in Warwick's Classic Chase (3.00) on Saturday afternoon.

Kempton also stages the Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40) on Saturday afternoon, with plenty of racing to look forward to and a reminder that all the UK and Irish action can be followed via the bet365 Sports Live Streaming platform.

Threeunderthrufive set for Classic test

It's been a really pleasing few weeks for Nicholls and the Ditcheat chief will be aiming to keep on landing the Saturday afternoon spoils as Warwick stages the Wigley Group Classic Handicap Chase (3.00) over a stamina-sapping three miles and five furlongs.

Nicholls saddles top-weight and 6/1 chance Threeunderthrufive here and it could prove an ideal test for him.

He won four on the trot over fences last season after a narrow defeat on his introduction, before coming up shy in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory at the Cheltenham Festival.

This term he was not unfancied for the Coral Trophy at Newbury on his return, but he uncharacteristically unseated Adrian Heskin at the first fence.

Having looked a sound jumper before that, it's probably worth forgiving him, and he's long appeared the sort to relish this severe stamina test - with the Aintree Grand National touted as a long-term target.

It won't be straightforward of course. Willie Mullins sends across Mr Incredible, priced at 5/1 on what will be only his second start for this trainer, while 7/1 Iwilldoit is on a roll for Sam Thomas, and Venetia Williams will hope 16/1 Commodore is a player.

Last-time-out course winner Guetapan Collonges has just 10st 3lb to carry and Charlie Longsdon's 15/2 chance is another that could relish the stamina test on offer now.

Complete Unknown up in grade for Hampton Novices' Chase

There are a pair of Grade 2 events preceding the Classic Chase and, again, Team Ditcheat will have their eyes on the prizes.

The Hampton Novices' Chase (1.50) features a field of only four and they are headed by Complete Unknown for Nicholls and Lorcan Williams.

He looked sure to be outpaced on his chasing bow at Ffos Las in December over shorter, but rallied strongly and ultimately was well on top at the line. The step up to three miles should be optimal now and he's 6/5 to make it 2-2 over fences for his top team.

Dan and Harry Skelton saw the mare Galia Des Liteaux crumble in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Christmas, an early jumping error seemingly jolting her confidence before she ultimately pulled up. She'd impressed at Bangor on chasing bow and is 2/1 to rebound now.

Gordon Elliott sends over The Goffer, 4/1 here after finding only an impressive Willie Mullins-trained winner too strong at Fairyhouse (2m5f, soft) last month, while the field is completed by 12/1 Gentleman At Arms for Stuart Edmunds.

The graded action at Warwick also includes the Ballymore Leamington Novices' Hurdle (2.25), where two-time hurdles scorer Knowsley Road (10/3) puts an unbeaten record over timber on the line for Nicholls.

C&D winner Ginny's Destiny (7/2) for Tom Lacey, the Gary Moore-trained Givega (7/1) and Lucinda Russell's Snake Roll (4/1) make for a really interesting heat, while the Skelton brothers have Grey Dawning at 7/2 after he landed a big gamble at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Pic the bones from Kempton contest

Grade 2 action on the menu at Kempton as well via the Silviniaco Conti Chase (2.05) where Nicholls' Pic D'Orhy heads the betting at 11/8 in the wake of his Peterborough Chase win around Huntingdon before Christmas.

He's 2-2 this season after a wind op and has strong claims, with stable jockey Harry Cobden at the Sunbury venue rather than Warwick.

There are dangers, however, and they almost certainly include 5/2 Paint The Dream for Fergal O'Brien, given he excels at this intermediate trip.

Saint Calvados is 9/2 in the hands of owner/rider David Maxwell also for the Nicholls yard, while there is sure to be lots of attention on 8/1 Angels Breath for trainer Sam Thomas.

He won his first two chasing starts at Ascot way back in late 2019 and looked a smart prospect in doing so, but he hasn't been spotted since - could he defy an absence of 1,121 days to make it 3-3 in this code?

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Lanzarote destination for Stag party

The Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle (2.40) is always one of the key January contests and, for many, offers a break from talk of Cheltenham in March as it rather stands alone in that regard.

A field of 20 have been declared and they include the likes of 5/1 Outlaw Peter for Nicholls and Cobden, as well as 5/1 Irish raider Green Glory for Charles Byrnes, featherweight Petit Tonnerre at 12/1 for Jonjo O'Neill and Harbour Lake at 14/1 for Alan King.

All are interesting in what should be a lively betting heat but perhaps 16/1 Stag Horn could be an outlier for Archie Watson.

He won on his first two starts over hurdles last season at this sort of trip, powering away in front, before coming up shy in Grade 1 novice company at Cheltenham and Aintree over three miles.

He's back from a break now, has won off a similar lay-off in the past, and could be nicely treated off a mark of 135 with track and trip in his favour.

Punchestown highlights Sunday

Looking on towards Sunday and Punchestown waste no time in getting their show on the road with the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (12.10) the first race on the card.

Noel Meade's mare The Model Kingdom has two wins from four over timber and two placed efforts in Listed/Graded to go with that. She sets the standard for this two-miler.

However, Impaire Et Passe won a Naas maiden hurdle (2m3f, soft) in December with consummate ease on debut for Willie Mullins, in the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Suede, and the gelding could be a big danger.

That despite conceding 7lb to both the Meade runner and Gordon Elliott's Shecouldbeanything -  winner of a point-to-point, a Limerick bumper and a maiden hurdle at the same venue in three runs so far.

The Madigan Group Novice Chase (2.10) is the second of the graded contests at the Kildare venue on Sunday and it looks a cracker as Elliott's Minella Crooner, Henry De Bromhead's Journey With Me and Mullins' Fairyhouse novice chase winner Ha D'or all come into it on the back of wins.

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