It’s the start of a New Year tomorrow and boy I have never wanted to see the back of a year so much. Surely 2021 will be better and we will hopefully see crowds back at a racecourse in the Summer.
As expected, Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day fixture has been lost to the wet weather. It’s a meeting I have always enjoyed and its disappointing that it won’t be on. Finger’s crossed that Exeter misses the snow and frost and can race.
Exeter had been looking forward to hosting a crowd on New Year’s Day but with whole of the country now going into Tier’s 3 or 4 there won’t be a crowd at racecourse for the foreseeable future.
We shall have to hope the vaccine can be rolled out quickly or it’s increasingly likely that Cheltenham Festival will take place behind closed doors.
Inside today’s main piece I look at the forgotten horse in the Champion Hurdle. Plus, there’s two for the tracker and a selection from Warwick.
I am not a big fan of backing horses ten and older in Grade 1 races at the Cheltenham Festival. However, I’m going to make an exception this year.
The horse in question is dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air. He will be ten in March and hasn’t been seen on a racecourse since finishing runner up in the 2019 Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
In his Racing Post Stable Tour trainer Nicky Henderson gave the veteran a good write up and said the horses “only objective is the Champion Hurdle”. No prep race has been identified, however, Henderson is a past master at bringing horses back off a big lay off and Buveur D'Air goes well fresh 4 wins from 6 runs 6 placed when returning from a 180+ day break.
Henderson and owner J P McManus also have ante post favourite Epatante lined up for the race. Now I’m not saying he will win a third Champion Hurdle, but the 25/1 available with William Hill looks worth a nibble to me.
Two for the tracker
Two from the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
Wide Receiver – Gordon Elliott
Wider Receiver won a Leopardstown maiden hurdle on Boxing Day. In the process made himself one of the leading fancies for the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, jumping much better than he had done on his previous three starts over hurdles. The 5-year-old should improve further for a step up in distance and is now just 8/1 for the Martin Pipe. If he gets to the festival in one piece, I can see him going off half those odds.
Dunvegan – Pat Fahy
There was plenty of support for Dunvegan in Sunday’s Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown. Looking a potential improver for the step up to 3m. The 7-year-old made a bad mistake at the first and was never travelling or jumping thereafter. Given the market support he received a mark of 139 looks winnable and it should pay to draw a line under this run.
It was nice to find the winner of the Lincolnshire National yesterday. I have to say Christmas has been good from a punting perspective and I'm heading into 2021 in good form. if you want my selections for January you can get them here.
2:40 – Top-weight Damalisque was just touched off in a better race at Naas last month. Sent off the 5/2 favourite at Naas, he can make amends here.
12:16 – Coachella Green put in a career best effort on RPR’s in the first-time tongue/cheekpieces combination last time. That was only the mare’s fourth start over hurdles and she could progress further if building on her Uttoxeter effort. Each way claims, if she handles today’s likely heavy ground.
Coachella – 11/1 @ Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook (both paying 4 places ¼ odds).
Wishing you and yours a peaceful New Year.