#startracking Thursday December 31st 4.30pm

#startracking has three runners on New Year’s Day, all at Cheltenham and all with a chance.

1.20     THREE MUSKETEERS This is a class horse for whom 2m 5f is his best trip at this stage of his career, he may get further in time. He was good last time at Newbury and he faces a bunch of stamina laden rivals. Surely Seeyouatmidnight, Aubusson and Blaklion all need three miles, Le Mercurey was a lucky winner at Ascot, Volnay de Thaix was no more than workmanlike on chasing debut and the expensive Minella Rocco has questions to answer. The ground is now Heavy which could be an issue, it is Three Musketeers first view of Cheltenham but if he is to give Shaneshill a race at the Festival in the JLT he has to go close here and he is a three star*** selection @ 3/1 general.

1.55     TOP GAMBLE He was due to step up in trip in the Rowland Meryck over 3m at Wetherby over Christmas but it was abandoned. This is an interesting alternative. Top Gamble is an improving chaser who knows how to win, will definitely go on the ground and is up to this grade. There are plenty of dangers most who have course and distance form. Village Vic, Little Jon and Tenor Ninervais all have a shout, Mr Mole is the class act but enigmatic at best, Mon Successeur is only five and improving  but hails from an “under a cloud” Ditcheat and my eye keeps being drawn to Johns Spirit who is starting to look well handicapped and fits the profile of past winners! However the 9/1 available with PP and Skybet for Top Gamble seems generous and he is a two star** selection.

3.05     VIRGILIO After his last win in a C2 handicap trainer Dan Skelton said Virgilio will go to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day for the two-and-a-half-mile conditions race. We thought we may as well give it a try in that sort of race.

He’s been put up 11lb by the handicapper to 149 so that is the reason and we’ll see how he gets on in graded company. We’d thought about going chasing with him, but those plans are on hold now.” He certainly steps in with the big boys here with Festival winners Cole Harden, Bobs Worth and Whisper all in opposition. This is the race that More of That won to announce his arrival at the staying hurdlers top table en route from winning handicaps off OR138 to winning the World Hurdle! Virgilio could be of a similar ilk and he is a two star** selection at 6/1 with PP.


I know many of you like to perm four selections so the fourth selection is …

2.30 BATAVIR When I went to The PP Gold Cup Saturday in November this horse was all the rage, 8/1 to 5/1, for the 3m hurdle won by Ron’s Dream. Like many others I saw Batavir in the Pre-Parade ring and he was just too fresh and was beaten before he left the paddock and on course drifted back to his original price. He ran well and was bang there to two out when his pre-race exertions took their toll. Since then he was a solid third to Baradari in the Fixed Brush at Haydock, he has been dropped two pounds and is almost a stone better off with Ron’s Dream. The cheek-pieces are back on, he’ll handle the ground and it all points to a big run. I simply can’t believe William Hill are offering 14/1 and he is a two star** e/w selection.


#startracking Guide to the Best of the Rest of New Years Day

There are very average Bank Holiday jump cards at Catterick, Fakenham, Exeter, Musselburgh in this country and a poor Fairyhouse card in Ireland. The jumpers worth looking at I anticipate will be too short to back and there isn’t much quality about. Southwell race on the sand.


2.20 Vieux Lille has looked good in winning his bumper and maiden hurdle and should defy the penalty here.

2.55 Braavos Another Hobbs inmate and a handicap work in progress. Surprised he’s running on this ground!

3.30 Activial Noel Fehily is here not Cheltenham and this one in the beginners chase is why. Second to Three Musketeers on debut.


1.40 Definitly Red Makes his much awaited chasing debut in an egg and spoon four runner event.




Next Blog will be Saturday Jan. 2nd 10.30am, looking at Sandown.


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