December Handicap Hurdle betting tips: Apple’s Shakira the clear pick at the weights

Horsebetting.com give their 2018 December Handicap betting tips. Apple’s Shakira is the class act in the line-up and looks potentially well-on on handicap debut, so is the main selection for the Listed 2m contest at Sandown on Saturday, 9 December. Totterdown scored in fine style last time out over course and distance, so therefore rates the main danger. Man Of Plenty, meanwhile, looks a lively outsider capable of making the frame, so appeals each-way. Read our detailed 2018 December Handicap Hurdle betting tips preview below for more details on these horses’ chances.

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Odds
4/1
Selection
Apple’s Shakira
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William Hill logo
Odds
6/1
Danger
Totterdown
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Paddy Power logo
Odds
14/1
E/W
Man Of Plenty
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Apple’s Shakira weighted to strike on handicap debut at Sandown

Apple’s Shakira is a class act, so is taken to defy top weight and make a winning return to action in the Listed 2m December Handicap Hurdle on a cracking seven-race card at Sandown on Saturday (14:25). The filly, who is a full sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Apple’s Jade, won her sole start over the obstacles in France in terrific style when drawing clear to score by 8 1/2 lengths.

She was then bought by leading Irish owner JP McManus and sent to join Nicky Henderson. The four-year-old could not have been more impressive on debut for the Seven Barrows handler when absolutely sluicing up by 17 lengths from Gumball in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham.

Apple’s Shakira travelled ominously well throughout and jockey Barry Geraghty barely had to move a muscle for her to pull readily clear. She then followed-up with consummate ease at the same venue when winning unextended by 3 1/2 lengths from the now 134-rated Nube Negra, before completing the hat-trick with another easy eight-length success at the Prestbury Park venue.

Strong juvenile form

Although sent off 6/5 favourite to the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on the back of those successes, Apple’s Shakira didn’t run up to expectations when a 6 3/4 lengths fourth of nine to Farclas off an official rating of 146. It was a similar story on the final start of her campaign in another Grade 1 at Aintree, where she ran flat in finishing a 17-length third to stable companion We Have A Dream.

However, Apple’s Shakira remains an exciting prospect going forward and now makes her handicap debut off an opening mark of 142. That could seriously underestimate her ability, while she fails from a yard in sizzling form at present. She also has her ideal underfoot conditions and this represents a drop in class.

So, with regular in-form jockey Geraghty also once again in the plate, Apple’s Shakira looks to have lots in her favour in this. We therefore had no hesitation in making her the main selection in our 2018 December Handicap betting tips.

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Course and distance winner Totterdown feared most

The Richard Phillips trained Totterdown has won two of his three starts this season and taken his form to a new level. In the last of those over course and distance, the seven-year-old turned a competitive 20-runner class 3 affair into a procession.

Totterdown made all and forged clear two from home. A mistake at the last then failed to stop him in his tracks, and he stayed on strongly to beat Nelsons Touch by six lengths. The son of Pasterak absolutely bolted up and never looked in danger at any stage.

It was a monster performance and Totterdown made a totally mockery of his mark of 129. Not surprisingly, then, the assessor has hit him with a 10lb hike in the weights for that runaway success. That makes things a lot harder, especially as this also represents a big step up in class.

However, Totterdown is clearly right at the top of his game and progressing at a rate of knots. He also has the benefit of race fitness on his side in relation to Apple’s Shakira and could prove tough to peg back if allowed an uncontested lead.

A bold bid to follow-up looks on the cards, so that’s why Totterdown rates the main to Apple’s Shakira. However, he could prove a sitting duck if that rival is within striking distance turning for home, given her potent turn of foot. So, while Totterdown is respected, our 2018 December Handicap Hurdle betting tips say take him on with the filly.

Man On Plenty has an each-way shout

Off those at bigger odds, Man Of Plenty looks a lively outsider and each-way player. This Sophie Leech trained nine-year-old is a frustrating sort who is on a long losing run, but did post some solid efforts in defeat last season.

They included when a staying on never nearer 7 1/2 lengths fifth of 11 to A Hare Breath in this 12 months ago off a mark of 123, and a 6 1/2 lengths fourth of 13 to Jenkins in a Grade 3 handicap at Ascot off the same rating.

Man Of Plenty also ran well when an 11 3/4 lengths fifth of 17 to Mr Antolini in the ultra-competitive Grade 3 Imperial Cup over this course and distance off 126, before rounding off the campaign with a fine second of 24 to Prince Garyantle at the Punchestown Festival.

He is now able to race off 123 again that makes him weighted to go well, judged on the aforementioned runs. He also comes into the race on the back of a decent fourth of 15 to the hugely exciting Champ at Aintree last weekend and undoubtedly has the ability to go well in this, if consenting to put his best foot forward.

Actually winning may prove beyond him against some talented younger types, but it would be no surprise to see Man Of Plenty make the frame. He thus features as the each-way punt and completes our 2018 December Handicap Hurdle betting tips.

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