Racing: Harvest for choosy punters

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The Independent Online
CHRISTMAS IS an ideal time to renew acquaintance with old friends, and there are plenty of those racing around the country this afternoon. Oh So Risky, Cab On Target and The Grey Monk are among the horses who will be running beyond the spotlight of Kempton Park this afternoon, on a day when the bookmakers would like nothing more than for punters to scribble every name that rings a bell on to the first available betting slip.

It is very easy to get carried away on Boxing Day, and if your bookie sent you a card this year, then you are probably the sort of punter who needs to exercise as much caution as possible. If you find yourself having a dabble in the second division of the Brandy Butter Handicap at Wolverhampton, the very last race on one of the busiest days of the year, you should have been home at least two hours ago.

Try and stick to the better events, like the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby, in which The Grey Monk is taken on by Strath Royal, who is something of a course specialist, and Colonel In Chief, the mount of Richard Dunwoody, who rides here in preference to Kempton, where he could not find a ride in the King George. It is Random Harvest (2.25), though, who looks to have the best chance of all with just 10st to carry.

Dunwoody also rides Celestial Choir, who takes on Cab On Target in the Supermaster Handicap Chase, and Symonds Inn, who won the Glasgow Stakes on the Flat in 1997 and ran respectably in the Derby soon afterwards. With Lord Lamb contesting the same novice hurdle, this is possibly the best race of its type anywhere in the country today.

Oh So Risky, who is now a desperately sad shadow of the horse who once won a Triumph Hurdle by 15 lengths, is an action at Wincanton, though he should be no match for Papo Kharisma (2.35), while Wayward King (2.05) must stand every chance of winning the Mid Season Chase for the second year in a row. On the same card, the Lord Stalbridge Memorial Gold Cup pits Fine Thyne, who ran well for a long way in the Hennessy Gold Cup, against Menesonic (3.05), who was just eight lengths adrift of Teeton Mill over this course two runs ago. That looks to be the best form on offer.

Ayr is one of the few remaining meetings with much to offer casual punters. Santa Concerto (2.35) looks to be a horse on the upgrade, and there could certainly be no more appropriate winner this afternoon.