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This Week's Racing, Including the Betfair Hurdle

An insight to everything racing this week.

Shishkin is set to be a showdown with Protektorat on Saturday.
Shishkin is set to be a showdown with Protektorat on Saturday.

Monday

Punchestown, Lingfield, Carlisle, Southwell

This Monday, we're getting a sneak peek at the lineup for Saturday's Premier races at Newbury and Warwick. Everyone's buzzing about the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick. Last year, it turned into a bit of a head-to-head showdown after a couple of the runners dropped out, making it super intense. And remember the race back in November? Ended up being a no-contest with just one runner cruising to the finish line for a cool £18,000.

Stattler, who just missed out on first place to Allaho at Thurles last month, is gearing up for a brand new adventure. He's hitting the cross-country scene at Punchestown (1.20) for the first time, running on the banks course. Patrick Mullins is back in the saddle for this ride, teaming up again for the first time since the Gold Cup last year. Stattler's up against Coko Beach, the Troytown champ who's looking to top his second place at the Becher Chase in December.

La Malmason is on a mission to keep the good times rolling after her win at Cheltenham. She's aiming for glory in the big race at 1.50, a 2m6f chase just for the ladies. Royale Margaux, who was just a whisper away from winning against La Malmason last time, is back for another shot at Carlisle (3.02), carrying just a bit more weight this time. Lunar Discovery's also hitting the track at Carlisle (2.32), looking to make a splash.

Musical Diva is all set to light up Lingfield (4.20) with her eyes on scoring a perfect three out of three on the all-weather tracks, after rocking it at Wolverhampton and Southwell. Speaking of Southwell, they're also hosting their own all-weather meet. So, gear up for some exciting races coming your way!

Tuesday

Market Rasen,  Taunton, Wolverhampton

Tuesday is shaping up to be pretty major, especially for anyone keeping tabs on the Grand National. The big news is that they're going to drop the list of horses aiming to run in the 2024 race. This year is a game-changer because, for the first time, only 34 spots are guaranteed. Everyone's on edge to see which horses might not make the cut, with big names like Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins expected to have a bunch of entries in this legendary race. After all, they've knocked the field down from 40 runners, so the stakes are high.

Over at the Racing Post, Tom Segal is dropping his thoughts on the Stayers' Hurdle with an ante-post Pricewise special. It's all happening as we get a clearer picture of who's in for the Grade 1 races at next month's Cheltenham Festival. We're talking big deals like the Champion Hurdle, Mares' Hurdle, Gold Cup, you name it. Some of the heavy hitters could be bowing out.

Market Rasen is spotlighting the Alan Swinbank Mares' Bumper at 4.05, a race that set Dysart Enos on her path to glory last year. This time around, Northern Air, snagged by Harry Redknapp for a cool £105,000, is stepping into the limelight for her first official run against eight others in a race that got pushed back due to last month's frosty weather.

Golden Ace, who nearly caught Dysart Enos in her last bumper, is hitting Taunton again (3.50) after a smashing hurdles debut there, even with a penalty to carry. And don't miss Secret Squirrel (2.20), trying to bounce back after a tough run against Jeriko Du Reponet at Newbury.

Wrapping up the day, we've got the evening all-weather meet at Wolverhampton to look forward to. It's a packed day for racing fans, so get ready for some serious action!

Wednesday

Fairyhouse, Ludlow, Sedgefield, Kempton

Wednesday offers up some quality racing in Ireland. Corbetts Cross is eyeing a big move at Fairyhouse, where he's already nabbed wins in both outings, shining bright in his only chase there. If he nails it again, especially carrying extra weight in the big 3m feature at 2.30, odds for the National Hunt Chase could see him climbing the ranks. And guess what? Any Second Now, another JP McManus star with two Grand National spots under his belt, is in the mix too.

Reach For The Moon, who's got a Group 3 win and a second place at Royal Ascot on his resume, is about to jump into the hurdles scene with Jamie Snowden at Sedgefield. Owned by the Queen and Sir Chips Keswick, this five-year-old's debut in the 2m1f maiden hurdle at 2.10 is his stepping stone to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the festival.

Betting.bet will be at Sedgefield today as we sponsor 3 more races in support of UK horse racing. Members can get free tickets for racing at Sedgefield.

Tea Clipper's hunter chase debut at Warwick last month was a nail-biter. He looked all set for a win until a last-minute slip-up let D'Jango sneak past. Tom Lacey's got him lined up for Ludlow at 4.20, aiming to bounce back from that surprising defeat. With a Festival entry in his pocket, it's redemption time.

And for the night owls, Kempton's got an all-weather meeting to keep the action rolling. Looks like Wednesday's packed with stories to follow!

Thursday

Doncaster, Huntingdon, Lingfield, Newcastle, Thurles

We're also looking ahead to the weekend's action with the declarations for Saturday's Premier races at Newbury and Warwick. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Huntingdon, where Grade 1 champ Jango Baie is set to tackle the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle. Nicky Henderson, who took home the prize with Shishkin in 2020, is hoping Jango Baie can follow in those winning hoofprints and maybe even set sights on the Supreme Novices' Hurdle next.

Henderson's not stopping there, though. He's also got Pentland Hills, the 2019 Triumph Hurdle victor, lined up for a 2m3½f handicap hurdle at Doncaster (2.40).

And keep an eye on Zanahiyr, last year's Champion Hurdle third, who's gearing up for a 2m½f beginners' chase at Thurles (1.55). His chase debut second to Fact To File is looking even better after the winner's recent Grade 1 victory at Leopardstown.

To round off the day, Lingfield and Newcastle are hosting some thrilling all-weather racing. So, buckle up for an action-packed Thursday!

Friday

Bangor on Dee, Wolverhampton, Kempton, Chelmsford

Favour And Fortune is stepping down from his showdown with Jango Baie at Aintree's Boxing Day meet to chillier waters at Bangor (3.20) this time around. If Alan King decides to run the six-year-old, this race will mark his fourth hurdle start as a novice, making him eligible for the bigger Class 1 and Class 2 handicap hurdle races. Pretty strategic move, if you ask me.

Bangor's day kicks off with a hunter chase (1.20) that's generating some buzz. Lift Me Up, owned by Red Bull's F1 boss Christian Horner and pop legend Geri Halliwell, is eyeing a comeback after a bit of a hiccup last May.

But Lift Me Up isn't the only one to watch. Miss Seagreen and Marcle Ridge both outperformed Lift Me Up at a previous Cheltenham meeting, nabbing the top two spots, and they're lining up again under trainer Lucy Smith. Secret Investor, last year's champ and a double Grade 2 winner, is entering the fray as the one to beat, especially after his victory over Vaucelet by three lengths at Stratford's hunter chase evening last June.

Peaky Boy, now with Henderson, kicked off the New Year with a bang, winning at Chelmsford. Owned by Olly Harris, this six-year-old is looking to keep the momentum going at Kempton (2.40).

And for those who love the buzz of the all-weather tracks, Wolverhampton, Chelmsford, and Dundalk are where the action's at. Looks like a day packed with opportunities and comebacks!

Weekend Racing

Saturday

Newbury, Uttoxeter, Warwick, Newcastle, Wolverhampton

The Betfair Hurdle at Newbury this Saturday is gearing up to be a thriller, with a hefty £155,000 on the line. Henderson's duo, Iberico Lord and Luccia, who finished first and third in the Greatwood Hurdle, are the ones to watch, both pegged at 7-1 favorites by the race's sponsors.

It's a big day for Henderson beyond just the hurdle. Shishkin, after a disappointing stumble and unseat at the King George, is eyeing a major comeback in the Betfair Denman Chase (2.05). It's set to be a showdown with Protektorat as Shishkin aims to shake off that Boxing Day upset.

Over at Warwick, the spotlight's on the Kingmaker Novices' Chase (2.20), a race that's seen champs like Edwardstone and Jonbon take the title in recent years. Meanwhile, Naas is hosting a Listed 2m mares' chase (3.27), adding some jump racing flair to the mix.

For those who prefer the buzz of the all-weather, Newcastle and Wolverhampton are lighting up the evening with their own races. Whether you're into the drama of the jumps or the speed of the flat, Saturday's offering a full card of racing excitement.

Sunday

Lingfield, Exeter

The Boyne Hurdle at 2.45 is a race with a legacy, boasting past winners like Gold Cup champ War Of Attrition and the legendary Tiger Roll, who clinched the Grand National twice. This 2m5f highlight is part of a stellar lineup at Navan, which also features a Grade 2, 3m novice chase at 3.45. Plus, there's a Listed 2m5f mares' novice hurdle at 2.15 for an extra dose of excitement.

Over in Britain, Exeter's getting in on the action with some Listed races of its own during their Premier fixture. Last year, Luccia made her mark by winning the Listed novice hurdle at 3.05, but this year, the spotlight's on a £40,000 Listed mares' chase. With more than £190,000 in prize money spread across seven races, it's a day packed with top-tier racing.

And for those who love the thrill of the all-weather, Lingfield is hosting a Flat meeting, ensuring there's something for every racing fan this weekend.

Bookmakers of the Week

Here are our selections for best bookmakers for horse racing this week.

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