Centre of attention today is the New Year’s Day meeting at Cheltenham, but the secondary meeting at Musselburgh has two races well worthy of look, so that’s what we’ll do.
Most valuable race at Prestbury Park is the BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase at 2.00, which has attracted a field of nine. To our mind, this has the look of a two horse race and we expect the finish to be fought out by Sametegal and Burtons Well.
Because of something called ‘slippage’, horses which stand in their boxes for a year become well handicapped without doing anything and that is what’s happened to Sametegal. Off for twelve months with a tendon injury, this 9-y-o has been quietly brought back to its peak by Paul Nicholls in two placed runs which have shown that the ability is still there and we expect the healing process to result in a victory today at 9-2.
Venetia’s Burtons Well has, thus far, promised slightly more than it has achieved and the 3lb rise for its latest second placing, plus the fact that the stable jockey has gone to Exeter, adds to our favouring the Ditcheat representative.
The BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase at 1.25 features a re-match between Willoughby Court and Yanworth, with the market making them unseparable at 7-4 each of two. The penalty carried by Willoughby Court should make it too close to call, so a watching brief is advised.
The opening Ballymore Novices Hurdle at 12.15 is an 8 runner, 3-1 the field affair and we give a great chance to Harry Fry’s Onefortheroadtom, back on a suitable track and over a more suitable distance than the Worcester race, in which it was just touched off.
At 9-2, this is a big value bet.
Two more win bets on the card are Vyta Du Roc in the 12.50 at 7-4 and the rejuvenated Old Guard in the 3.10 at 7-2.
Up in Scotland, the two main races, with £30,000 guaranteed are at 1.40 and 2.15 and you are instructed to get on Knockgraffon in the 1.40 at 4-1 if you can get it or anything else if you can’t. Brian Hughes’ agent would have been all over this like a rash and there is no better person to have on board – Olly Murphy means business.
In the 2.15, that ‘slippage’ factor appears again, as this race sees the return to hurdling action of Jim Goldie’s Sir Chauvelin, which last ran over obstacles in April 2016. In the meantime, this 6-y-o’s Flat rating has improved from 76 to 98 and off today’s hurdle mark of 125, this could be a New Year gift – slam into the 3-1.
Now I’m going back to bed.
Sametegal 2.00 Cheltenham win @ 9-2
Onefortheroadtom 12.15 Cheltenham win @ 9-2
Vyta Du Roc 12.50 Cheltenham win @ 7-4
Old Guard 3.10 Cheltenham win @ 7-2
Knockgraffon 1.40 Musselburgh win @ 4-1
Sir Chauvelin 2.15 Musselburgh win @ 3-1