New Year action from a crowded Cheltenham and a deserted Musselburgh this afternoon, with seven chances to do our hungover brains.
First up at Cheltenham is the Dipper Novices Chase at 1.25, in which the fragrant Venetia‘s L’Homme Presse is 7-4 favourite.
Unbeaten in its two chases so far, the Ascot race two weeks ago rather fell apart, with its two main rivals departing early on, so the visually impressive victory could be viewed with a certain amount of caution.
We prefer to go with The Glancing Queen (sing along, now) from Alan King‘s yard. Similarly unbeaten in two chases, this 8-y-o mare looks well up to taking on the ‘boys’ after an easy win in a Listed event at Warwick, where she impressed with a slick round of jumping and a strong finish. We recommend a win bet at 3-1.
The usual suspects race at 2.00 is called the Paddy Power Handicap Chase and takes place at 2.00.
Only certainty of the day is that Coole Cody will make the running, as it did successfully at the last meeting, when beating Zanza by 2 lengths, but today we take the Philip Hobbs 8-y-o to gain revenge in first time ‘pieces’. We suggest an each way tickle at 6-1.
We also have to throw in Dan Skelton‘s Alnadam, which, at last, has the soft ground for which the yard have been waiting patiently. Last seen being hammered by Bravemansgame (who hasn’t been?) in November, this potential improver is on a good mark and there is plenty of stable confidence flying around. At 5-1, we’ll take it each way.
At 2.35 we get the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle, with a field of 14, in which Fergal O’Brien saddles two with seemingly good chances. We think the one to be with is Ask Dillon, which has a CD win off a higher mark to its name from April and is weighted to reverse form with the two in front of it when third, again over CD, last time out on December 10th. At 12-1, this looks the value play.
Final race from Gloucestershire is the Relkeel Hurdle at 3.10, in which it is hard to get away from the chances of Brewin’upastorm, after its demolition job over a good class field at Aintree in November. So we won’t.
Olly Murphy‘s 9-y-o showed the benefit of a close season wind op last time out and has been kept for this race since. Have a win bet at 2-1.
Musselburgh coverage starts with the Betway Handicap Hurdle at 1.40, which has (at the moment at least) a dead eight field.
We are keen on the chances of Fergal‘s runner, Stoner’s Choice in this, dropping back in trip after failing to see out the 3 miles at Sandown last time out, in a better contest than this one. At 9-2, an each way bash is de rigeur.
The Betway Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle at 2.10 sees the return to action of Tommy’s Oscar, winner of its last two races and 5-2 to complete the hat-trick. However, the last time this horse came up against today’s opponent Anna Burina it came off second best and is now 6lbs worse off.
That was in April last year and John McConnell‘s mare hasn’t run since, but its a long way to bring a horse that’s not fit, so we’ll take a chance on her at an each way 7-1.
Final race is the Betway Handicap Chase at 2.50, which contains our strongest bet of the meeting in the shape of Amour De Nuit.
Paul Nicholls‘s 10-y-o has won three from eight over fences and all three were off higher marks than today’s 135. A staying on third in a 0-150 event at Newbury as a warm up for this, we suggest a strongish win bet at 15-8.
“So what’s your New Year resolution?” we hear you cry – more winners.
The Glancing Queen 1.25 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 3-1
Zanza 2.00 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 6-1 (6 places Hills/Skybet/Paddy)
Alnadam 2.00 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 5-1 (6 places Hills/Skybet/Paddy)
Ask Dillon 2.35 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (5 places Hills/Skybet/Betfred)
Brewin’upastorm 3.10 Cheltenham 3pts win @ 2-1 (Hills/Boyle)
Stoner’s Choice 1.40 Musselburgh 1.5pts e/w @ 9-2
Anna Bunina 2.10 Musselburgh 1pt e/w @ 7-1 (3 places Hills/Ladbrokes/Coral)
Amour De Nuit 2.50 Musselburgh 4pts win @ 15-8