Happy New Year everyone and may 2020 bring you many winners!
ITV brings us a New Year treat straight away on Wednesday with six races being shown, including four from Cheltenham and two from Musselburgh.
Let’s get straight to it, and the 13:25 at Cheltenham is the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase over an extended 2m4f. All eyes here on Champ, who really should win with ease for Nicky Henderson and the great Barry Geraghty. The recent Newbury winner stays strong, jumps for fun and this course holds no fears. On ratings he has a bit to find giving 5lb, but should take all the beating and I expect him to score with ease.
Next at Cheltenham is the 14:00, a Grade 3 handicap chase over an extended 2m4f. Kalashnikov will be all the rage here after a fine effort at Newbury last time, but the horse I want to back each-way is the animal who also ran a cracker at Newbury in Oldgrangewood – who defeated Kalashnikov that last day. Dropped in trip by Dan Skelton, my hope stayed on really strongly and he can power home here again late on. Have a few quid each-way.
The 14:35 at Cheltenham is a handicap hurdle over 3m. Many will ignore Beware The Bear over hurdles, but while he’s a strong stayer over fences he might just be a fair each-way bet. The trip holds no fears and Jeremiah McGrath has done this column a huge favour in the past on this animal when scoring at the Festival. Hoping for a good run from the Henderson runner.
Lastly at Cheltenham, the 15:10 is the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle over an extended 2m4f. Not a vintage renewal, so maybe the ex-chaser Janika will be good enough to give Henderson another success on the day. Although far from brilliant at Sandown last time, Janika is much better served by this distance.
Meanwhile, over at Musselburgh ITV show the 13:40, a handicap chase over an extended 2m4f. A truly competitive heat. Nuts Well is in form after a success at Wetherby last time and this track is ideal as a horse who races close to the pace. Added to that, he’s been higher in the weights in the past, so the rating is workable.
And finally at Musselburgh, it’s the 14:15 is a handicap hurdle over nearly 2m. I like the look of Normal Norman, who makes his seasonal debut for John Ryan. The selection has been in good form on the all-weather, and while he might not be the strongest stayer this track, he has already been useful for the six-year-old. Might go well.
So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?
Cheltenham 13:25: Champ – 4/7
Cheltenham 14:00: Oldgrangewood – 6/1
Cheltenham 14:35: Beware The Bear – 5/1
Cheltenham 15:10: Janika – 2/1
Musselburgh 13:40: Nuts Well – 5/1
Musselburgh 14:15: Normal Norman – 5/1
* All prices correct at time of posting.