A Festive Racing Festival

Features | 20th December 2022

It is the season for racing fans to be very jolly

There is some fantastic action on over Christmas with some of the most eagerly-anticipated races of the year shaping up to be cracking contests. Here’s a look at the superb racing on offer over the festive period.

Boxing Day

After the annual three-day shutdown racing returns with a bang on Boxing Day.

The Ladbrokes King George VI Chase grabs the headlines as the feature race at Kempton. Bravemansgame, L’Homme Presse and Frodon are among the stars likely to line-up for racing’s traditional Christmas cracker. The Grade 1 race has been won in the past by the likes of Desert Orchid, Kauto Star and Clan Des Obeaux.

With the Ladbrokes Long Walk Hurdle rerouted to Kempton from Ascot’s frozen-off meeting last weekend, there are now four Grade 1 races on an exceptional card. There is the usual bumper list of Boxing Day fixtures up and down the country.

In total, there will be eight meetings, including Wetherby’s big Christmas card featuring the William Hill Rowland Meyrick Chase.There are also meetings at Fontwell, Huntingdon, Market Rasen, Newcastle, Wincanton and Wolverhampton, so there should be a racecourse within reach of most racing fans.

Tuesday 27 December

The focus turns to Chepstow on Tuesday with the Coral Welsh Grand National taking centre stage. The 3m5f marathon has been won by subsequent Cheltenham Gold heroes Synchronised and Native River in recent years.

The last three winners have all been trained in Wales and there is sure to be a strong ‘home’ team determined to keep the prize in the principality again this Christmas. It’s also the second day of Kempton’s big meeting. The top two-mile chasers will battle it out for the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase and the novices will get their chance to push their Arkle Trophy credentials in the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase. Wetherby also completes its Christmas fixture with a seven-race card featuring the William Hill Castleford Chase.

The Flat horses go on the all-weather at Wolverhampton.

Wednesday 28 December 

After such a sensational couple of days racing, Wednesday’s racing will play out in a lower key. Leicester’s card, featuring the Pertemps Network Leicestershire Silver Fox Chase, will still be screened live on ITV Racing. There are also meetings at Catterick and on the all-weather at Newcastle.

The Welsh Grand National start

Thursday 29 December 

There are three meetings on Thursday. Doncaster will appear on the ITV Racing coverage, where the big race is the Bet365 Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase. They also race over jumps at Kelso and on the Flat all-weather at Southwell.

Friday 30 December 

There’s a decent card at Taunton on Friday, where the Listed Byerley Stud Mares’ Novices Hurdle keeps the Christmas quality up to scratch. The Betfred Last Fling Chase, run over 3m4f, is likely to see a few Grand National hopefuls lining up in the staying contest on Haydock’s jumps card. There’s also an all-weather meeting at Wolverhampton.

Yorkshire Silver Mares' Chase

Saturday 31 December 

The top-class racing keeps on coming this Christmas. Paul Nicholls will be hoping to win his third consecutive Coral Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury. The champion trainer has won the Grade 1 prize four times in total with the likes of Denman and this year’s King George VI Chase hope Bravemansgame. The Mandarin Chase offers excellent support on the seven-race card. There is also jumps racing at Uttoxeter and Warwick, while they race on the all-weather at Lingfield.

New Year’s Day 

There’s no better way to see in the New Year than at one of the six race meetings. Cheltenham’s traditional January 1 meeting features two Grade 2 races – the Paddy Power Dipper Novices’ Chase and the Dornangroup.com Relkeel Hurdle. There are also meetings at Catterick, Exeter, Fakenham, Musselburgh and Southwell.

There will be live coverage on ITV on six of the seven days from Boxing Day until New Year’s Day, so there is a huge amount to look forward to this Christmas both for the most enthusiastic racegoer and the armchair viewer.

Check out our Fixture Planner here to find an amazing festive raceday near you