Kate Tracey has five bets across three races at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, where she thinks Venetia Williams is likely to start 2022 well with a Grade 2 and a Grade 3 win…
L’Homme Presse to remain unbeaten over fences
We’re back at Cheltenham, it’s a new year and surely things can only get better after the past two years we’ve all had to endure. However, there’s been one constant we’ve been able to rely on in these times, brilliant racing and that’s the case again at Cheltenham on Saturday.
I’m taking a close look at three races at Cheltenham with five bets. The first race to analyse is the Grade 2 Paddy Power Novices’ Chase (registered as the Dipper Novices’ Chase) at 13:25.
Now, I must admit, this isn’t a strong Grade 2 by any means. It lacks a lot of depth and quality with this race losing plenty of its alure in recent years. Fair play to connections though for entering their horses in this contest as it’s a very winnable Grade 2.
There’s one runner in here I think could be a cut above the rest and will hopefully, work his way up to becoming a true graded performer. That horse is L’Homme Presse who is the second highest rated in this race, 1lb less than Millers Bank.
I was keen to take on Millers Bank though as he jumped horribly last time out at Newbury so I couldn’t side with him with any confidence here.
Whereas L’Homme Presse merely looks as if he’s going to continue this positive trajectory for the foreseeable after winning his two chase starts so far. He’s impressed on both of those occasions and appears to be crying out for a lefthanded track which he’s getting here.
He was giving weight to the second horse who was coming into the Graduation Chase on the back of a chase debut success herself. The third horse, Messire Des Obeaux won this contest last year when it was rescheduled for Wincanton so that form looks solid in terms of this race.
I think he could prove a class above his rivals here with the main danger being the likeable, The Glancing Queen from Come On Teddy who looks a decent each-way play.
Funambule and Riders to prove better than their handicap marks
It’s yet another Grade 3 Handicap Chase at Cheltenham over 2m4 1/2f at 14:00 where we have plenty of our usual candidates for these Grade 3 Handicaps lining up once again. This is yet another great race as are all of these big field handicap chases away from the Festival which provide so much intrigue and betting opportunities.
Once again, I have delved through the trends of this race to try and narrow down a couple of selections.
It’s been fascinating running through the trends of these Grade 3 Handicap Chases over the middle distance at the Cheltenham meetings as each throws up different preferences. For example, in last month’s Racing Post Gold Cup Handicap Chase at the December meeting, it paid to side with those who had contested the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November.
Whereas in this race, the trends would suggest avoiding horses who ran in any of the other Cheltenham handicaps. Instead, it’s worth focussing on a horse aged seven or nine-years-old with an official rating above 142. The switch to the New Course also favours hold up performers in this race who have had at least one run this season and ran well last time out. Ideally, that horse should have run three weeks to one month prior.
These trends favour five runners in this race however, there are still questions to have to answer for some.
Alnadam nearly fits all the trends but it’s been more than one month since his last outing and he may be ridden too far forwards. Janika also hasn’t been seen for over one month and may be too near the pace. It’s difficult to know how Simply The Betts will be ridden but he too, risks being in a prominent position and he also didn’t run well last time out for all it was in a Grade 2.
That leaves two runners, Funambule Sivola and Riders Onthe Storm. Both have less doubts than their aforementioned rivals but still have to be taken on the hope that they are ridden with restraint.
Venetia Williams has had a brilliant season so far and that’s without her generally regarded, ideal weather conditions. It’s been a fair autumn and winter with the ground unusually sound for the time of year, yet the Williams form has remained a constant.
Funambule Sivola is a very likeable horse who still looks better than this mark of 155. He proved that last time out on his reappearance start in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
He ran a corker considering how early he got racing with Master Tommytucker and Allmankind. Both of those rivals faded out of contention, clearly paying for their exertions. However, Funambule Sivola was able to finish a respectable second despite paying for the inefficient running style himself. He was only beaten by the Grade 1 winning First Flow who was ridden with more restraint.
The second selection is Riders Onthe Storm at a bigger price on his second start for Richard Hobson. Again, it’s difficult to know what tactics will be deployed in this race as he was previously, ridden with restraint when trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. On his stable debut last time out, he disputed the lead which is a slight concern.
Other than that query, he has everything seemingly in his favour and he too looks very well handicapped on his best form off this mark of 147. Remember he was a Grade 1 winner two seasons ago at Ascot where granted, he was effectively gifted the race with Traffic Fluide falling at the last and Cyrname had already cracked.
Last season didn’t go to plan for Riders Onthe Storm in three runs where he wasn’t able to take his Grade 1 win forwards. It is of course, worth mentioning that those three starts came in Grade 2 and Grade 1 company however.
He looks too big a price to ignore and with Nick Schofield taking the ride once more, there has to be every optimism he’ll ride him cold.
Two worth chancing at bigger prices in stayers handicap hurdle
The 2m7f213y Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ at 14:35 looks a trappy contest where a clear case can be made for those at the head of the market who come into the race in good form. However, once sifting through the trends, there are some more options available at much bigger prices who look just as interesting as their shorter priced counterparts.
The trends for this race aren’t as significant as our earlier contests however, there are some definite lines to follow in.
A horse aged between six and nine-years-old, rated 125-135 that has had at least one run this season is favoured. Narrowing it down, it’s also worth siding with a horse who won last time out with that run coming one month ago. Hold up performers have a good record but there isn’t a huge amount of obvious pace in this race which begs a question of that trend.
I wonder if Tamar Bridge and Kansas City Chief will try and go forwards which will hopefully, take a few more contenders to the front with them. That should lend itself nicely to my two each-way selections in My Bobby Dazzler and Whatsupwithyou.
My Bobby Dazzler represents the Mel Rowley yard and was an easy winner by 21 lengths at Aintree last time out in a Novices’ Handicap Hurdle. That run came one month ago where he was ridden in a more prominent position than usual.
He’s been given a 14lb rise for that routing which of course, begs an entirely new question of him. The revised mark certainly doesn’t look beyond this unexposed six-year-old and there’s likely to be far more to come from him over three-miles.
The second each-way selection is Whatsupwithyou who is available at a bigger price for the Ben Pauling team who have been in very good form. This horse also ran one month ago where he finished third over fences at Fontwell.
That latest outing was a very fair effort as the conditions were testing and Whatsupwithyou was niggled into the bridle and given reminders to be kept up to his work a circuit out. He jumped very cleverly and carefully but lost a length at most fences, then barely had the pace to make up the difference between the obstacles.
This return to hurdles should suit him on that basis if he can jump quicker and slicker.
Off a 3lb higher hurdle mark but 6lb less than when last seen over the smaller obstacles, he looks a very interesting player.
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