Honeyball pair head runners in feature at Newbury’s St. James’s Place Christmas Raceday tomorrow

Newbury Racecourse stages the first of two festive fixtures tomorrow with the St. James’s Place Christmas Raceday on Wednesday, December 20.

The richest race of the afternoon is the £25,000 Listed Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares’ Novices’ Chase (2.05pm) over just shy of three miles, with in-form Dorset handler Anthony Honeyball responsible for two of the seven runners.

Ms Parfois (Noel Fehily) reappears quickly after staying on strongly to win a two and a half mile mares’ handicap chase at Cheltenham on December 15, while Tacenda (David Noonan) tackles this distance for the first time following a good second to Benie Des Dieux in a Listed mares’ chase at Carlisle on December 3.

Honeyball, who has sent out five winners from his last 15 runners, said today: “It is a quick turnaround for Ms Parfois, but she was only ever doing just enough at Cheltenham the other day. You never really know until you run, but I don’t think she had a hard race.

“Tacenda bumped into one at Carlisle and has been doing well since. She is a nice mare who has done nothing wrong to date. She is a good galloper and should have no problem going up in trip.

“Ms Parfois and Tacenda are very different to look at – Ms Parfois is a fine, big mare – but both stay well and I suppose they will help each other along a bit tomorrow as we think we have stamina on our side.

“Both of them have jumped lovely so far and that should be an advantage, as the home straight at Newbury takes a bit of jumping.

“It is a bit of a shame running them against each other and you would only do it in a race like this. It is a £25,000 Listed race, which is important for the mares, and we are very much looking forward to it.”

Tara Mist (Henry Daly/Tom O’Brien) is another contender with recent winning form, having captured a mares’ handicap chase at Uttoxeter on November 3.

Surtee Du Berlais (Oliver Sherwood/Leighton Aspell), who runs in first-time blinkers, landed a Listed race over hurdles at Kempton Park last season. She was a well-beaten fourth on her chasing debut behind Tacenda at Fontwell on November 10.

The line-up is completed by Happy Diva (Kerry Lee/Jamie Moore), who was G2-placed over hurdles in February, Two Swallows (Ben Pauling/Nico de Boinville) and Morello Royale (Colin Tizzard/Robbie Power).

Elsewhere on the card, it could be a good day for Newbury’s leading trainer Nicky Henderson. The Lambourn handler unleashes interesting French recruit Style De Garde (Nico de Boinville) in the opening St. James’s Place Juvenile Hurdle (12.30pm, 12 runners), a race he took in 2008 with future JCB Triumph Hurdle victor Zaynar.

Henderson also saddles Mr Whipped (Nico de Boinville) in the Qolcom EBF Stallions “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (3.15pm, 10 runners). The Irish point-to-point graduate was an easy winner over two miles at Kempton Park on his hurdling debut on November 13.

Newbury races again Betfred Challow Hurdle Day, Saturday, December 30, when the highlight is the £40,000 G1 Betfred Challow Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles.

The going at Newbury is currently Soft.

The gates open at 10.30am.

Accompanied children aged under 18 are admitted free of charge.