Yes, it is the final big day of racing before Christmas. A big happy Christmas to one and all and fingers crossed we can hit the jackpot today at Ascot.

Arrivederci is in the form of his life and was sure to have a major say in the Betfair handicap hurdle at Haydock when clipping the top bar and falling three out. At the stage Arrivederci was travelling well and making his move to take the lead. Who knows if he would have won but having beaten the eventual winner War Lord quite comfortably at Wetherby it sure would have been close! The handicapper has not been very kind raising Arrivederci 2lbs for falling three from home but to my eyes he remains a well handicapped horse. Hopefully, his confidence has not been dented and he can resume by landing this valuable handicap. The testing ground is fine and Jonjo O’Neill is enjoying a resurgent season thus far with this string.

Belfast Banter is the sole Irish representative and looks to have a solid chance on testing ground. He proved at Galway that he can finish up a hill when carrying 11-12 on soft ground to beat Gevrey. Gevrey won next time out so that is good form. At Punchestown on Heavy ground last month, Belfast Banter improved but met a good one in Rescue Package. The UK handicapper has rated Belfast Banter 5lbs ahead of his Irish mark (124) and that could prove lenient going on how well the Irish horses did at Cheltenham last weekend. He is set to carry 10-7 with Kevin Sexton riding for shrewd trainer Peter Fahey.

That's our lot until Boxing Day (St. Stephens Day here in Ireland). The King George VI Chase is always a cracker with Clan Des Obeaux aiming to win the race for the third year running this time round!

Ascot – 3:35

0.5 Point EACH WAY Arriverderci (7/1 Betfair SB 6 places else 7/1 Paddy Power, Ladbrokes & Coral paying 5 places.)

0.5 Point EACH WAY Belfast Banter (12/1 Betfair SB 6 places else 7/1 Paddy Power, Ladbrokes & Coral paying 5 places.)

Compare Odds at Ascot Saturday 15:35 Betting Odds Winner | Horse Racing | Oddschecker

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