King Roland To Reign Supreme On New Year’s Day7 min read
Cheltenham (12.15): Welsh Saint
The new racing decade begins with a cracking card at Cheltenham which begins with a listed race for novice hurdlers over an extended two-and-a-half miles.
Redford Road is the best long-term prospect in the field and will jump a fence in time, but he carries a 5lbs penalty and seemed to improve for the step up to 3m last time. This drop back in trip may be less than ideal and Welsh Saint (12.15) gets a narrow vote for Nicky Henderson OBE.
The selection showed improved form when winning at Warwick last time and that particular race normally throws up a good horse with Henderson winning the corresponding race with Birchdale 12 months ago.
Cheltenham (12.50): Doing Fine
Doing Fine (12.50) won the “void” race at Sandown last month and can run from the same mark this afternoon for Neil Mulholland. I thought he needed good or faster ground to be seen at his best, but his Sandown “win” on soft suggested that was no longer the case and I hope compensation awaits from the foot of the weights.
Equus Secretus represents the yard of Ben Pauling whose string have begun to hit their straps in recent weeks – a market move would be worth noting.
Cheltenham (13.25): Deyrann De Carjac Each Way
Champ is still not the most fluent of jumpers, but he is one of the most exciting horses in training and the turn of foot and dexterity he showed to win and avoid “Geraghty’s elbow” at Newbury last time marked him down as a horse of exceptional ability.
He must give 5lbs, however, to Deyrann De Carjac (13.25) and the latter gets the each-way vote – 2 places – for Alan King. The latter was beaten 6L by Champ at the Berkshire track and he won’t beat the favourite on the revised terms if Champ puts in a clear round, but the selection is a fine jumper of a fence and at 11/2 with BetVictor, he gets the each-way nod.
Cheltenham (14.00): Saint Calvados Each Way
Kalashnikov was mugged close home by Oldgrangewood at Newbury and the pair have obvious chances again in the 2m 4f handicap chase even if the handicapper has had his say. My two against the field, however, are Cepage and Saint Calvados (14.00) with the latter getting the each-way vote at 15/2.
Harry Whittington’s seven-year-old looked ready for a step up in trip when beaten 6L in the Shloer Chase here back in November over the minimum trip and he receives 4lbs from Kalashnikov who is the 4/1 market leader.
Cheltenham (14.35): Kilbricken Storm Each Way
My two against the field in the 3m Handicap Hurdle are Ask Dillon and Kilbricken Storm (14.35) with marginal preference for the latter despite the fact that he faded tamely from two out in his reappearance.
The each-way selection had his wind operated on in the summer and the hope is that with his first start under his belt, he will be a different proposition today. He is 2lbs lower in the weights this afternoon and at 8/1 with BetVictor – who are betting 4 places – I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race.
Ask Dillon didn’t jump as well as he can at Chepstow on his reappearance just five days ago but ran a very sound race in the circumstances. It is interesting that Fergal O’Brien is bringing him out so quickly. At 14/1, he looks a big danger.
*NAP* Cheltenham (15.10): Emitom
The only horse to beat Emitom (15.10) in six career starts is Champ in the 3m Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Aintree back in the spring and I hope he can make a winning reappearance for Warren Greatrex in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle.
The selection obviously gets further than this extended two-and-a-half-mile trip and there doesn’t appear to be any obvious pacemaker in the field, but I hope jockey Gavin Sheehan is wise to that possible scenario and ensures a decent test of stamina.
Exeter (13.15): Darling Maltaix
At Exeter, Darling Maltaix (13.15) might not be the most consistent horse in training, but he has jumped well enough in his two starts over fences for Paul Nicholls and looks to have his optimum conditions this afternoon.
Exeter (15.00): Bullionaire
I am convinced there is more to come from Sir Psycho over timber, but preference is for Bullionaire (15.00) who can give the Nicholls’ runner 19lbs – including jockey’s allowance – and a beating in the novice hurdle for Harry Fry.
Exeter (15.35): King Roland
I hope it is a good day for Fry as he also saddles King Roland (15.35) in the maiden hurdle. The selection finished runner up at Newbury on his hurdles debut having won both his Bumpers and his sole point previously. Today’s additional quarter-mile will suit and he is a very exciting prospect.