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The Week Ahead
  1. Horse Racing

The Week Ahead: Winter Million action comes to Lingfield

Lingfield Park is the setting for three days of quality action later this week as they host their Winter Million Festival from Friday through to Sunday.

The innovative meeting enjoyed a healthy beginning last year and has once more drawn plenty of prize money and quality racing to the Surrey venue. They've got two days of National Hunt action, with a quality all-weather offering sandwiched in between.

There's also the small matter of the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

All the UK and Irish action can be followed via the bet365 Sports Live Streaming platform and we're taking a look ahead to what's in store in the coming seven days.

Monday 16th January

UK racing on Monday comes from Fontwell and Hereford, over jumps, alongside evening all-weather action at Wolverhampton, while there's also National Hunt fare from Punchestown in Ireland to kick-start the week.

It was a Saturday to savour for trainer Dan Skelton as he bagged four winners from just seven runners across Britain, with brother Harry joining his wife Bridget Andrews amongst the winners in a real family affair for the Skelton team.

Dan and Harry will looked to continue their excellent form, with a 30 percent strike-rate in recent weeks, as they head to Hereford on Monday.

Uttoxeter maiden winner Missed Tee goes in the Novices' Handicap Hurdle (1.40) for them, while they also have Jet Plane in the Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (2.40), though he's seemingly got a stiff challenge from Nicky Henderson's City Chief.

Tuesday 17th January

Tuesday's action comes from Chepstow and Clonmel over jumps, the Irish venue having saved the card that was abandoned last Thursday to a waterlogged track - while all-weather action is at Kempton in the afternoon and Southwell in the evening.

That man Dan Skelton could have a leading contender in the Chepstow feature, the BH Events and Experiences Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (2.30) in Lac De Constance.

He was a wide-margin winner on his chasing bow at Kempton in November and started favourite for a Grade 2 back there over Christmas, only to unseat Harry Skelton before things got serious.

He's had three weeks to get over that mishap and may head to Wales seeking a confidence-booster.

Wednesday 18th January

Plumpton and Newbury are the venues of choice for jumps action this midweek, while there's plenty of all-weather racing too, as Wolverhampton stages an afternoon card before Southwell and Dundalk take over in the evening.

It's a decent card at Newbury, with their feature race being the DJB Cleaning Ltd Handicap Chase (for The Harwell Trophy) at 3.25.

The Class 3 event over just shy of three miles features the likes of Five Star Getaway (Christian Williams), Fuji Flight (Venetia Williams), Fairlawn Flyer (Peter Bowen) and Animal (Sue Smith) amongst the entries and could prove a very good race.

Thursday 19th January

Another busy day on Thursday with jumps meetings at Fairyhouse, Newcastle, Ludlow and Wincanton in the afternoon, before Kempton dominates later in the day.

At Wincanton it will be Somerset National Day and trainer David Pipe has entered four of the 14 possible contenders as he bids to win the race in successive years.

The Pond House handler has Sidi Ismael, Red Happy, D'jango and Adaya Du Mathan in the mix, the final trio all in the colours of owner Judith Wilson.

Paul Nicholls has stout stayer Southfield Harvest entered, while Alan King could be represented by Notachance and in-form Joe Tizzard has Copperhead and Butterwick Brook in the early melting pot.

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Friday 20th January

Southwell, Newcastle and Dundalk provide all-weather racing on Friday, while there's a jumps card at Market Rasen, but the main focus is sure to be on Lingfield Park - where they stage day one of three at their Winter Million Festival.

The Surrey circuit have made a real effort to provide quality action and prize money and that's shown on Friday, with four races having purses of £50,000 or more.

The day one feature is the Sovereign Handicap Hurdle (2.40) over two miles, boasting a pot of £110,000.

Last year's meeting was a stop-off for subsequent Cheltenham Festival-winning mare Love Envoi and there could be more clues for the major spring prizes this time around.

Saturday 21st January

A typically busy Saturday has jumps action from Ascot, Haydock, Taunton and Navan alongside Lingfield and Wolverhampton on the level.

At the Winter Million meeting their Polytrack feature on day two is the £100,000 Winter Oaks (1.37).

Meanwhile at Ascot it's the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase (3.35) as 8/13 Energumene looks to go one better than 12 months ago when he lost out narrowly to Shishkin in what was, for many, the race of the season.

That old foe is out of the picture now, of course, but Alan King's Edwardstone is on course to appear and is 5/4 to bounce back from his mishap at Kempton over Christmas in the Desert Orchid Chase.

Can he give the Willie Mullins inmate, currently 8/11 to win a second Queen Mother Champion Chase on 15th March a proper test and set up a blockbuster clash in the Cotswolds?

Sunday 22nd January

Fakenham and Thurles have jumps meetings on Sunday, but once more the quality comes from Lingfield and their concluding Winter Million card.

They are underway from 12.30 with a seven-race offering that includes the Fleur De Lys Chase - with a pot of £165,000 - as well as the Surrey National over three miles and five furlongs.

All told, the third day of the Lingfield jamboree has prize-money totalling more than £400,000.

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