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The Week Ahead
  1. Horse Racing

The Racing Week Ahead: Fingers crossed for Ascot

The Grade One Long Walk Hurdle is the feature race on Saturday on an excellent card at Ascot. 

Hopefully, temperatures start to lift, and the weather does not cause any further abandonments across the next seven days. 

All the UK and Irish action can be followed via our Sports Live Streaming platform and here's a day-by-day look ahead to the racing week in store from 12th–18th December.

Monday 12th December

The week begins with three meetings in the UK and Ireland on Monday. Unfortunately, jumps racing is not on the agenda after the cards from Market Rasen and Plumpton were abandoned. However, there is all-weather action from Lingfield (11.42-3.20), Dundalk (2.45-5.45) and Wolverhampton (5.30-8.30).

Huberts Dream has enjoyed himself at Lingfield over the last few weeks and is looking to complete a hat-trick of wins after back-to-back successes on the AW surface at the venue. Stuart Williams’ two-year-old will need to carry a 6lb penalty on his back this time around. 

Tuesday 13th December

Catterick (12.20-3.20), Southwell (AW) (12.43-3.13) and Wolverhampton (AW) (3.45-6.45) all host meetings on Tuesday in the UK. Unfortunately, Wincanton has been abandoned due to a frozen track.

In the Juvenile Hurdle at Catterick at 1.50, Donald McCain will be hoping Eclairant Le Monde can get off the mark at the fourth attempt. She has finished second on two occasions, including over this C&D. The three-year-old will be ridden by Champion Jockey Brian Hughes at the North Yorkshire course.

Wednesday 14th December

Four meetings take place in the UK and Ireland on Wednesday. Lingfield (12.05-3.25) gets things underway on the all-weather. It is then followed by Newbury (12.20-3.35), Dundalk (AW) (2.45-5.15) and Kempton (AW) (3.30-6.30).

The feature race at Newbury is a Listed chase over the extended 2m7f trip and Pink Legend is the highest-rated runner in the field for Venetia Williams. She could be set to take on recent Market Rasen Listed winner Fantastic Lady who will be saddled by Nicky Henderson in what looks set to be a fascinating duel.

Thursday 15th December 

Five racecourses host racing on Thursday in the UK and Ireland. Jumps cards come from Naas (12.15-3.25), Exeter (12.30-3.30), and Ffos Las (12.38-3.48), while later in the day, Southwell (2.03-5.05) and Chelmsford (5.30-8.30) feature on the schedule with all-weather meetings.

The beginners’ chase at Naas at 2.25 could be a race to keep an eye on as Mullins, Elliott and Henry De Bromhead all have interesting entries. Grade Two winning hurdler Bronn finished second on his chase debut at Fairyhouse last month and his connections will be hoping he can go one place better this time around. 

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Friday 16th December 

Uttoxeter (11.55-3.20), Ascot (12.35-3.30), Southwell (AW) (1.25-4.55) and Kempton (AW) (5.15-8.15) feature on Friday. It is day one of the Howden Christmas Racing Weekend at Ascot, with two Grade Two races on the card. 

At 2.20, it is the Porsche Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle at the Berkshire-based racecourse, which takes place over 1m7½f. Luccia makes her return to action after prevailing in good style at Newbury last month and she will take on several unbeaten hurdlers, including Throne Hall (Archie Watson-trained) and Idalko Bihoue (Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained) 

The novice chasers are in action at 2.55. Monmiral, trained by Paul Nicholls, is entered and he will be making his second appearance over fences. He finished runner-up behind Jonbon on his chase debut at Warwick, form which has been boosted following the former’s victory in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

Saturday 17th December 

The Grade One Long Walk Hurdle is one of the leading races in the stayers’ hurdle division. The 3m contest is set to feature a strong field at 2.20, with 8/1 Champ, 2/1 Paisley Park, 9/2 Miranda and 8/1 Goshen all holding entries. Paisley Park won this race in 2018 and 2020, while 12 months ago, Champ came out on top for Henderson.

On what is an excellent day of racing at Ascot, the Howden Silver Cup Handicap Chase comes at 2.55, while at 3.30, it is the Betfair Exchange Trophy.

Newcastle (11.25-3.21), Lingfield (AW) (11.44-3.09) and Haydock (11.50-3.15) are all also on the schedule on Saturday, with the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase being the most lucrative contest on the card at Lancashire course.

Sunday 18th December 

Two meetings feature on Sunday, with Fakenham (12.22-3.22) and Wolverhampton (AW) (12.39-3.39) set to race across the afternoon.

The class three handicap chase over 2m5f at 2.52 is the pick of the racing in Norfolk, while at Dunstall Park, the class two handicap over the sprint distance of 5f at 2.39 could attract a strong field.

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