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The Week Ahead
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The Racing Week Ahead: Moore ready for Tolworth Speed test

After a frantic festive period of intense racing action, it's a more pedestrian pace in the days ahead, before Sandown Park stages Britain's opening Grade 1 of 2023 on Saturday.

There's plenty action to sample before that and, as always, all the UK and Irish action can be followed via our Sports Live Streaming platform.

Monday 2nd January

We take a look ahead to the coming seven days in the racing world.

Four meetings are slated on Monday as the first racing week of the New Year gets underway, with action set to take place at Ayr and Plumpton over the jumps, alongside all-weather meetings from Lingfield and Newcastle.

The feature contest at Ayr is the Golf Inn Prestwick Handicap Hurdle (2.45), a Class 2 race over an extended three-miles which has attracted a field of five runners.

They include veterans The Jam Man and Storm Nelson, both ten-year-olds, as well as Wakool for Nick Alexander and Lucinda Russell's Haute Estime, but the one they may all be trying to thwart is Vee Dancer - stablemate of The Jam Man - and winner of his last three hurdles starts in December 2021.

He was last spotted on the Flat in October and could be the key player here despite a rating 14lb higher than when he won at Catterick 12 months ago.

Tuesday 3rd January

Another trio of UK meetings make up Tuesday's schedule, with all-weather meetings at Chelmsford and Wolverhampton (evening) joined by the jumps fare from Musselburgh.

The Scottish track boasts a Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (1.15) where useful hurdler Barrichello may aim to build on good efforts at Uttoxeter and Bangor (third both times) since going chasing.

Donald McCain's runner should be on the scoresheet sooner rather than later based on those promising efforts and he'll have champion jockey Brian Hughes for company if he turns up here.

Wednesday 4th January

The midweek is dominated by all-weather action, as UK meetings at Newcastle and Kempton (evening) are joined by the return of Dundalk following the Irish venue's Christmas shutdown.

The National Hunt flag is flown by Hereford on Wednesday, with a seven-race card underway from 1.00 and featuring a Novices' Chase at 2.30 as the feature race on the afternoon.

Thursday 5th January

Continuing the theme, it's three more meetings on Thursday, with all-weather cards at Wolverhampton and Chelmsford (evening) flanking the jumps card at Ffos Las.

The Welsh venue have a decent Handicap Hurdle (2.30) over just shy of two-miles which may be headlined by Donald McCain's Word Has It.

He won twice over timber early in 2021 but failed to score last season in three runs. December's comeback at Wetherby (2m, soft) saw him finish a pleasing third and there could be more to come now.

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Friday 6th January

Friday's action in Britain comes from Ludlow over jumps alongside all-weather cards at Kempton and Southwell, while in Ireland they race at Dundalk under the Friday night lights.

The Ludlow card boasts the Plyvine Caterers Handicap Chase over three-miles-one-and-a-half-furlongs as the feature race, with £16k on offer to the winner.

At Kempton, meanwhile, their afternoon meeting on the Polytrack includes a London Mile Series Qualifier that should attract a decent field.

Saturday 7th January

Sandown Park headlines on the first Saturday of the year, and they are joined by action from Newcastle, Wincanton and Cork over jumps, while all-weather meetings comw from Lingfield and Kempton (evening) on a typically busy day.

The Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown (2.25) is the star attraction and Authorised Speed - already a 25/1 chance to win the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March - is set to put his unbeaten record on the line.

Gary Moore was "highly delighted" with the way Authorised Speed stayed unbeaten over hurdles at Sandown last month.

The son of Epsom Derby winner Authorized was a high-class bumper horse last season, finishing best of the home team when fifth in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and looks an exciting prospect for Moore this term.

Also on the card at Sandown is the Veterans' Chase Series Final - an always popular event with £100k in the pot.

Sunday 8th January

Chepstow is the lone jumps meeting in Britain on Sunday and they are joined by all-weather racing from Southwell.

In Ireland, they get their first Grade 1 of the year via the Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle, the feature on the afternoon at the Co Kildare venue and a race won by the likes of Bob Olinger, Envoi Allen, Bellshill and Rule The World in recent times.

Willie Mullins is an eight-time winner of the race, though not since 2018, and he counts Champ Kiely, Gaelic Warrior, Grangeclare West and Spanish Harlem amongst his potential contenders this time around.

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