Donald McCain: The verdict on my Boxing Day runners

Cinders And Ashes bids for more Grade 1 glory at Kempton.
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Donald has a busy day ahead of him with runners all around the country.

"I think he (Grouse Lodge) has probably reached the ceiling of his ability over hurdles - he's now rated 132 - and it's time to kick on with him over fences..."

14.35 Kempton

Cinders And Ashes

It's not ideal that the ground is as testing as it is likely to be but I am fairly sure it won't be as bad as it was at Newcastle and he will take his chance. There's only a handful of races a horse like him can run in and this has been the plan all season - he seems in great nick at home and these are the big days he has to be contesting this year. Newcastle will have brought him on and he's obviously got a big chance - albeit the rain hasn't been welcomed.

12.10 Sedgefield


It's not a bad race for the track but he's improving and if he copes with the heavy ground, you would have to think he had a leading chance. He ran well enough in a bumper at the track last season and getting his head in front at Musselburgh will have done him the world of good.

12.40 Sedgefield

Deise Dynamo

This look a competitive race but he's a decent sort and he handled heavy ground well at Kelso. I suppose he will probably want a bit further than this in time but it should be a proper test under the conditions and I would be hopeful that he would be on the premises once again.

13.55 Sedgefield

Dunowen Point

He's been off for a long time and I suppose in an ideal world, he would be making his reappearance on better ground. He's ready to run though and this looks the right sort of race for him - he isn't on a bad mark but it's a case of getting him back on the course and try to continue where we left off.

15.05 Sedgefield

Flicka Williams

He seemed to handle the ground well enough at Hexham last time and this doesn't look a great race now he switches to handicaps. He has been a bit keen in his races so far but if he settles better, he doesn't look to be on a bad mark.

15.35 Sedgefield


He wasn't a star in point to points but he was a good, solid performer and he looks as though he will give his owners a lot of fun. This ground should suit him well and I would think he had a strong chance of making a winning start for us.

12.35 Wetherby

Avenging Ace

There's no getting away from the fact that he has been very disappointing but this is his first run in a handicap and it looks a very ordinary race, particularly if the two that also have entries at Market Rasen go there. Paul O'Brien takes a very handy 10lb off his back and although he has been disappointing, he continues to show plenty at home. He might have enough class to get by in such a weak race.

14.30 Towcester

Spitfire Ace

He's still got a lot to learn about the game and he didn't seem to quite get home in the conditions at Uttoxeter on his debut. He's got a future and with the likely favourite also being engaged at Ffos Las, this isn't a strong race. 

Radio Nowhere

He's still very inexperienced but he will have learned a fair bit from his run at Leicester. There's room for improvement in his jumping but there is some ability there and it isn't a strong race.

15.05 Towcester

Grouse Lodge 

I think he has probably reached the ceiling of his ability over hurdles - he's now rated 132 - and it's time to kick on with him over fences. He's schooled well and has winning form in points and this doesn't look the strongest race. With trip and ground both suitable, he should have a strong chance of making a winning start over fences.

13.35 Market Rasen

Switched Off

Everyone saw what happened at Carlisle last time when he managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Adrian (Lane) will be given instructions to try and put his head in front as late as possible and we will just have to see how we get on - he's clearly handicapped to go well at present.

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