't Was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
Well not quite yet and there is work still to be done in the betting shops and on the racetracks before the festivities begin.
Down at Ascot this afternoon at 2.30 we have the Grade Two Mitie Noel Novices' Chase. Just the three stand their ground but it is still an interesting race. Finian’s Oscar is on a bit of a recovery mission, was two from two in Novice Chases, having been slammed by Sceau Royal at Sandown in the G.1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase and I was far from impressed watching trackside. Dolos and Benatar were both also entered in the Sodexo Graduation Chase on Saturday but come here instead. Benatar steps into Graded company for the first time over the bigger obstacles being two for two thus far in his Novice season. The one that caught my eye though is Dolos as the four-year-old is weighted to win this with only 10-8 to carry. Now on an OR of 144 following a very impressive win on Chasing debut here at Ascot in the Tindle Newspapers Beginners' Chase last month where he jumped fluently and at speed throughout that race, just under 2m3f, and to my eyes, he looked to have any amount left in the tank at the end. It’s hard to know what he beat that day but he beat them very well and Paul Nicholls may just have yet another good on one his hands here. I am on the outsider of the three at 3-1.