Racing Post's December Preview

Were it not for the fact Santa Claus tends to have a hefty workload through the opening chunk of December - old furry chops invariably leaves things to the last minute - it is almost certain he would spend every single Saturday of the month at the races. 

Who could blame him, for there are some wonderful presents waiting to be unwrapped.

The great thing about this stage of the jumps season is every single Saturday is fantastic. 

That's absolutely true of the first one, for Newbury stages what for decades was the Hennessy but now becomes the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy. It offers big money, a big field and a big puzzle. Total Recall, American and former Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree are among the possible answers.

On the same afternoon Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air starts the defence of his crown in Newcastle's Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle. He is bound to start favourite. Who will start favourite for the following weekend's two highlights is much less clear.

There are few things to match the sight of steeplechasers racing over two miles at Sandown. It can be spectacular, never more so than in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase, which this year could host either Douvan or his Willie Mullins stable companion Un De Sceaux. The chosen one will likely meet Fox Norton, heading the home defence in the absence of Altior.

Tingle Creek day at Sandown is Randox Health Becher Chase day at Aintree. It's a Grand National trial over the Grand National fences. What's not to like about that? Moreover, last year it featured subsequent Grand National winner One For Arthur. 

One week after that the sport goes back to Cheltenham for two cracking days, while fast forward another week and Ascot hosts its Christmas meeting closer to Christmas than ever before. 

If you're fretting about not having done your festive shopping by that point, fret not. There will be shopping stalls galore open at the royal racecourse on December 22 and 23. That said, if you still haven't acquired your turkey, a nearby supermarket might be a better option.

By Boxing Day you will have eaten most of the turkey (fingers crossed for a moist bird with crispy skin) and be in urgent need of a top-class jumps race. Hurrah, then, for Kempton, as this year's 32Red King George VI Chase is set to an absolute classic.

If Santa has just emerged from a nearby chimney he is almost certain to be there.

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by The Racing Post's Lee Mottershead at Rewards4Racing

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