(2.5 minutes read)
Cheltenham holds its customary New Year’s Day meeting next Monday and we preview the five televised races to form a 5-horse accumulator.
The feature race of the day is the Grade 2 Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle which at the time of writing includes a stellar cast of Marie’s Rock and Bob Olinger. Recent Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Stage Star also features in another valuable handicap chase.
Best odds are provided by our partner firms bet365, William Hill, Bet Victor, Betfred and Boylesports.
Race 1 12.55 Cheltenham
The Close Brothers Novices' Limited Handicap Chase
The day kicks off with a competitive handicap chase round the new course just over 2 miles. The market is led by the Nigel Twiston Davies trained Matata who made his rivals look very ordinary in a decent novice handicap at Ffos Las back in October.
He looks a special prospect and is our pick for this first leg of the handicap at best odds of 2/1 with bet365.
Race 2 13.30 Cheltenham
The Paddy Power Handicap Chase
Cracking staying chase contest over 3 miles. The veteran Cloudy Glen trained by Venetia Williams ran a creditable race in the recent Coral Gold Cup, but our preference would be Stumptown who comes into this on the back of a great run of form last season.
This included a brilliant close second in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase at The Cheltenham Festival. If he can reproduce this form, he has an excellent chance. Best odds 100/30 with Bet Victor.
Race 3 14.05 Cheltenham
The Paddy Power New Year's Day Handicap Chase
The recent Paddy Power Gold Cup and Grade One Cheltenham Festival winner Stage Star holds an entry for this race but carries top weight of twelve stone.
Even with that burden, the Paul Nicholls star will be the one to beat, however, course and distance winner Torn And Frayed looks well handicapped and is our value selection at a whopping 25/1 with William Hill and Bet Victor.
Race 4 1440 Cheltenham
The Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle
The biggest field of the day is also a very competitive stayers handicap hurdle. The Sam Twiston-Davies trained Ed Keeper leads the market at 3/1 with Bet365. However, the value may come from Come On Teddy who won over course and distance last year.
The interesting factor was that the win came after a previous poor run. The pattern could repeat itself here as he could improve for his opening run of the season, a 23-length 6th at the November Meeting. Best odds of 10/1 with William Hill and Bet Victor.
Race 5 1515 Cheltenham
Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle
The feature race of the day, the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle, is a small field affair but makes up for it with some intriguing participants.
The Henry De Bromhead trained former Turners Chase winner Bob Olinger will be looking to follow up positively after his seasonal bow in which he stayed on well to win the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan. He should come on for that run. 13/8 William Hill.
The biggest danger is without doubt the Nicky Henderson trained course and distance winner Marie's Rock who ran a creditable fourth in the recent Grade 2 Long Walk Hurdle at Newbury.
However, Marie's Rock not only holds the accolade of having won this renewal last year, but also gains the 7ib mares weight allowance. Our selection and 11/8 favourite with Bet Victor and William Hill.
Strong Leader, trained by Olly Murphy, holds decent claims after his excellent second to the highly regarded Blueking D’Oroux in the Ascot Hurdle last month. He will need to improve on that to figure here but looks good value at 11/2 with bet365.
The Olly Murphy second string Brewin’upastorm looks well held by all of these but would be in with a squeak if he reproduces the form of winning the Betgoodwin National Spirit Hurdle Grade 2 at Fontwell last season where he beat the likes of Sceau Royal and Knappers Hill. Best odds of 16/1 with William Hill and Bet Victor.
Race 1 12.55 Cheltenham: The Close Brothers Novices' Limited Handicap Chase
Matata 2/1 bet365
Race 2 13.30 Cheltenham: The Paddy Power Handicap Chase
Stumptown 100/30 Bet Victor
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (4pm 30th December 2023) and are subject to change.