Bay to slay Lexus rivals
Our Nick Grant is backing Tidal Bay to win the Lexus Chase on Friday - he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.
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CATTERICK: 12.50 Coverholder, 1.20 Antonius Caesar, 1.50 Lady Romanza, 2.20 Jack The Gent, 2.50 Tutchec, 3.20 Our Jim
LEICESTER: 1.10 Uno D'Estruval, 1.40 Nicky Nutjob, 2.10 Fulgora, 2.40 Global Flyer, 3.10 Ballyduag, 3.40 Scorched Son
LEOPARDSTOWN: 12.25 Mala Beach, 12.55 Treat Yourself, 1.25 Voler La Vedette, 1.55 Dont Tell Pa, 2.25 Back In Focus, 3.00 TIDAL BAY (NAP), 3.35 Gabriel Brandy
LIMERICK: 12.35 Dogora, 1.05 Kashline, 1.35 Our Vinnie, 2.05 Backinthere, 2.35 Savello, 3.10 Sang Bleu, 3.45 Kaki Island
LINGFIELD: 12.00 Faithful Ruler, 12.30 Consign, 1.00 Whinging Willie, 1.30 Brown Pete, 2.00 Chasin' Rainbows, 2.30 Millibar, 3.00 Bowstar, 3.30 Efistorm
WOLVERHAMPTON: 3.50 Silverware, 4.20 Mosman, 4.50 Cheers For Thea, 5.20 Woolfall Sovereign, 5.50 Stetson, 6.20 Devout, 6.50 Ascendant
DOUBLE: Tidal Bay and Back In Focus
Tidal Bay can burst a few bubbles with victory in what looks a mouthwatering Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on Friday.
Despite the plethora of high-class action at this time of year, the three-mile Grade One is arguably the best race of the week on either side of the Irish Sea.
Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs have hogged the attention in the build-up, and understandably so, but one or two question marks hang over both.
The main one, of course, is whether Flemenstar will see out the trip, despite him being a former point-to-point winner.
And such is his bold-jumping nature from the front it will be extraordinary if his stamina lasts out.
Sir Des Champs will stay and there was lots to like about his reverse at the hands of Flemenstar over two and a half miles in the Durkan.
But for all that, at the prices it is worth taking a chance on Tidal Bay, who carries loads of confidence from Paul Nicholls and ran an absolute blinder in the Hennessy under a big weight.
A breathing operation since joining Nicholls has revitalised this former rogue, who has also won the bet365 Gold Cup for his new handler, and soft ground only enhances his claims.
His owner Graham Wylie is set for a big afternoon as Back In Focus should take the beating in the Topaz Novice Chase.
Potentially a Gold Cup horse of the future, it cannot be soft enough for the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old, who has very few miles on the clock and is two from two over fences.
His win over Lyreen Legend last time out was a solid effort and he will appreciate the return to three miles.
Jack The Gent made an encouraging return from a long absence at Doncaster last time and could be of interest at Catterick.
The George Moore-trained eight-year-old finished a good third on his chasing bow and will be a lot wiser for the experience in the Come Racing New Year's Day Beginners' Chase.
Uno D'Estruval could also deliver the goods in the Belvoir Novices' Chase at Leicester.
Whinging Willie can maintain his good form on the all-weather by winning the 32RedBet.com Casino Handicap at Lingfield.
The Gary Moore-trained three-year-old has done well this close season, having won with a degree of authority at Kempton in November.
He backed that up with a narrow second at Wolverhampton, before finishing third over course and distance a week ago.
Whinging Willie is not an easy ride, though, and needs to be delivered from off the pace in order to get competitive.
He arguably gave his rivals too much rope on his last start as nothing was finishing faster than George Baker's mount.
Whinging Willie is clearly not handicapped out of the equation on that evidence, however, and deserves support off the same mark of 62.
Consign earlier looks the shout in the British Stallion Studs EBF/32Red.com Maiden Stakes.
Jeremy Noseda's youngster has made a satisfactory start to his racing career, with a third-placed finish over this seven furlongs suggesting there is more to come.
The two-year-old Dutch Art colt, who holds some big entries next year, was well backed that day, so any market interest should be seized upon.
Ascendant, meanwhile, should keep the home fires burning at Wolverhampton.
The versatile six-year-old ran a great race after a long absence over this course and distance a few weeks ago when he got to within a length and a quarter of Flying Power on his first start for Alan McCabe.
Indeed, he could have got even closer to the winner that day had he not been hampered at a crucial stage.
Ascendant should be far fitter for his return in the 32Red.com Handicap over a mile and a half.