What better way to celebrate the New Year than with racing from the home of National Hunt racing Cheltenham. ITV have four races from the Cotswolds course including the highly competitive 1.55 which features seventeen runners. Musselburgh is also in on the action with a brace of class 2 handicaps. Here are my top ITV Racing tips on the six races.
ITV Racing Tips 1/1/23
Six go to post for the Dipper Novices’ Chase run over 2m 4 1/2F of the new course. The best in at the weights here is Olly Murphy’s Thunder Rock who comes here chasing a hat trick of wins over fences having previously scored in handicaps at Uttoxeter and Ascot under A P Heskin and he should be competitive although I just prefer Paul Nicholls’ Monmiral in a race that may well turn into a match between that pair. Monmiral is a smart hurdler rated just 2lb inferior to Thunder Rock who bumped into one on his chase debut when 7L second to the smart and subsequent winner Jonbon. Sure to be better for that spin over the big obstacles he can take this with Harry Cobden doing the steering.
MONMIRAL 2 points win @ 5/4 bet365
An open looking 2m 4 1/2F class 2 handicap chase is the first of two races at the Scottish course shown by the ITV cameras today. A case can be made for most of these with top-weight Minella Drama trained by Donald McCain worth a small stakes investment. A smart novice last season winning twice including in grade two company at Haydock the seven-year-old has kept good company on both starts this season in non-handicap company at Carlisle and Haydock. The last time we saw him in handicap company was on his fencing debut in October 2021 when an easy 8 1/2L winner at Uttoxeter and is only a couple of pounds higher here. Pay The Piper had Dubai Days (2 1/2L) and Cedar Hill (5 1/4L) behind him last time at Kelso and can confirm that form for the shrewd Ann Hamilton operation based in Northumberland. Down at the bottom of the handicap and a pound wrong is Iain Jardine’s Half Shot who’s chasing a three-timer having won at Sedgefield in October and back over hurdles here a month later. He’s not without a chance as is Stuart Coltherd’s eight-year-old Coopers Cross who was third in a better handicap than this at Aintree last time. A tough race but it’s just Minella Drama for me.
MINELLA DRAMA 1 point each way @ 4/1 William Hill 1/5th 123
A maximum bumper field of seventeen will go to post for this premier handicap, the Paddy Power New Year’s Day Handicap Chase run over 2m 4F 127 yards of the new course. The race looks open with several holding good chances and you really will need some luck in running. The Paddy Power Gold Cup run over this trip but on the old course back in November featured several of these with the Skelton’s Midnight River finishing third, Il Ridoto 4th, Deyrann De Carjac 5th, Nassalam 6th, Simply The Bets 7th and Stolen Silver unseating his rider three out. The best of that group may well be Midnight River who appears to have as good a chance as any here. I’m prepared to take that form line on mind with my pair against the field Kim Bailey’s Happygolucky and Nicky Henderson’s mare Fantastic Lady. The former ran a cracking race on his seasonal re-appearance up at Newcastle when third in the Rehearsal Chase to L’Homme Presse and Into Overdrive. That form has been boosted since and although he’s dropping in trip today can run a big race. Henderson’s Fantastic Lady comprehensively beat Zambella (won twice since) last time in a mares only listed chase and like Happygolucky shouldn’t mind dropping half a mile in trip. With enhanced places I’ll play the pair.
HAPPYGOLUCKY 1 point each way @ 9/1 William Hill 1/5th 123456
FANTASTIC LADY 1 point each way @ 14/1 bet365 /5th 12345
The [email protected] Relkeel Hurdle is a grade two contest run over 2m 4 1/2F of the new course and we have a nice sized field of nine going to post for this prestigious contest. The two best treated at today’s weights are Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm and Jeremy Scott’s Dashel Drasher. They are the only two in the race not penalised and as both are the joint oldest in the field are worth taking on. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ I Like To Move It is three from five at Cheltenham and having spread eagled his field in the Greatwood Hurdle here back in November off of top weight is the the one to beat. Nicky Henderson’s First Street also won a good handicap off of a big weight last time and comes into the reckoning whilst Paul Nicholls’s Knappers Hill is a rapidly improving hurdler who’s chasing a five timer today. Henderson also runs his smart mare Marie’s Rock but she’s coming back from a 246 day absence. They all have claims but I’ll go with I Like To Move It with trainer’s son Sam Twiston Davies in the saddle.
I LIKE TO MOVE IT 2 points win @ 4/1 BetVictor
Eleven have declared for the 1m 7 1/2F class 2 handicap hurdle. Musselburgh is a sharp flat track that suits the speedy flat types and Archie Watson’s Al Zaraqaan certainly falls into that bracket. Rated 102 on the all-weather on the level he’s shown a real liking for timber winning four on the bounce (including one in Sweden!). He was very impressive when winning over course and distance at the beginning of last month and despite a 9lb rise is likely to be very competitive again under Sean Quinlan who takes over from regular rider Gavin Sheehan who’s required at Catterick today. The Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero trained Homme Public is maybe his biggest danger. His third behind Love Envoi last time at Sandown was boosted when the runner-up that day Playful Saint bolted up in the week and off of the same mark and in first-time cheek pieces should run well. Donald McCain’s Nayati was behind that day and looks held. Socialist Agenda was third to AL Zaraqaan last time beaten only three lengths and on 9lb better terms is another who can go close but the winner won easily that day and he’s the selection today.
AL ZARAQAAN 2 points win @ 7/2 bet365
Next up is a class 2 handicap hurdle run over just short of three miles with a field of eleven declared. Plenty are in with a chance including Nicky Henderson’s Call Me Lord whose young jockey mistook the winning post at Sandown last time when going down by a nose to the re-appearing Dolphin Square. James Bowen takes over from the 7lb claiming Ben Bromley but I still favour the amateur-ridden Dolphin Square to confirm the form. A consistent nine-year-old ridden and owned by David Maxwell was a credible runner-up in this last year from a 4lb lower mark. Maxwell is not everyone’s cup of tea but he’s a trier and has won many races in his career. Back in third that day only a short hard behind the aforementioned pair was the Skelton’s Wilde About Oscar who also has claims. Warren Greatrex’s Abuffalosoldier has had his Newbury win boosted by the subsequent victory of the runner-up Steal A March on Boxing Day at Wincanton whilst the Paul Nicholls-trained Jet Of Magic may have more to offer. Another tough race but I’ll play Dolphin Square each way.
DOLPHIN SQUARE 1 point each way @ 7/1 Betfred 1/5th 1234