by John Burke

January 4, 2021

Good morning all,

The first few weeks of January tend to be miserable on the quality front. Add in no crowds at racecourses and what looks like some bitterly cold weather lined up for most of this week. Things can only get better. You would hope so.  However, looming on the horizon is another national lockdown. A lockdown which could resemble what we had in the spring.

What does that mean for professional sport and of course horse racing? I think we should brace ourselves for the real possibility that the sport maybe taking another break. Fingers crossed my gloomy prognosis is wrong.

On the plus side we do have some good racing to look forward to this Saturday, weather permitting of course, with the re-scheduled Welsh Grand National at Chepstow. At Kempton it’s the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle and in addition the Relkeel Hurdle moved from Cheltenham’s cancelled New Year’s Day fixture. Even Wincanton gets in on the act with Dipper Novices Chase, also from that Cheltenham meeting.

A great week of racing ended at Sandown on Saturday. Inside today’s main piece you can read my thoughts on a couple of races from that card. Plus, I have a selection from Fakenham.

Tolworth Hurdle

Harry Fry has a genuine Cheltenhan Festival contender in the Tolworth winner Metier. Trained on the flat in Ireland, by Andrew Slattery, the 5-year-old made it 3-3 over hurdles with an impressive 12 lengths success.

Having made all at Ascot on his previous start. The gelding proved his tactical versatility as jockey Sean Bowen got him settled in just behind the leaders. Travelling noticeably well, favourite backers must have been delighted to see him with a double handful turning into the straight.

Granted it probably wasn’t the strongest ever renewal of the race. However, there’s no doubt Metier is a young and exciting hurdler going places. His jumping was slick and he was strong at the finish. Clearly well suited by soft ground, if he’s as effective on quicker ground he’s all the attributes needed to become a high class.

Veterans Chase Final

It’s no hyperbole to say the Veterans Chase Final has become one of the most eagerly awaited races of the winter.

Fifteen went to post for a race which produced a good winner in that “absolute warrior” Seeyouatmidnight. The 13-year-old hasn’t been the easiest to keep sound in recent seasons but trainer Sandy Thomson had the old boy spot on for the day.

Always in a prominent position, just behind early leader Strong Pursuit, jockey Ryan Mania got him into a good jumping rhythm from the off.  He took over the lead four out and from then on never looked like he would be caught.

Crosspark gave valiant pursuit after the last, to finish a length behind the winner but was never quite getting there. His cause probably wasn’t helped by walking through the final two fences. The admirably consistent 11-year-old has now finished runner-up on his four starts this season and has been beaten less than a length in all of them

Sir Ivan almost gave Sean Bowen and Harry Fry a third winner on the card. Apart from the winner he travelled best of all. The 11-year-old's stamina was always going to be tested on soft ground and was beaten by a couple of stronger stayers on the day.

Monday selection

Fakenham

2:55 – Le Sacre has failed to complete on either start but the 12-year-old will like the soft ground and is just 2lb above his last winning mark. Trainer John Flint had a winner at Newbury last week so the yard are in form and he should give his backers a good run for their money in this 3m 5f handicap chase.

Le Sacre – 13/2 @ Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook

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Good luck with your Monday bets.

John

John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk

Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TGH Trading Ltd or it's employees.

About the author 

John Burke

John Burke is a long term tipster at the Victor Value service, a contributor to On Course Profits and of course a regular contributor here at the Daily Punt. If you want all of John's selections every weekend and his horses to follow – Click Here https://dailypunt.com/jb

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  1. Well I can Honestly say that whether racing continues or Not behind Closed doors (It looks like it will)
    I will only be taking an Interest from armchair and Watching .
    The bookies will not be getting a penny from me , Nor have they since June/July since racing resumed without crowds .
    Some of the results have been attrocious , Horses not being put into races, Pulling up , Not being ridden to win .
    It may well not be the Case but some of these races look stictched up from start to finish .
    That's not sour grapes I've come out in front over the last 50 year and during that time of attending racing you do i believe get almost as much a Sixth sense when things are off key as a you get when things are right .
    I'm not alone in this my own group of Colleagues , racegoers agree .
    Unfortunately the game now is falling under suspicion
    Pundits who clearly know which side their bread is buttered along with the Racing post , Would have you believe that racing is straigter now than at any time in its long history . Hmm
    From the Days when my father was an Illegal bookies runner who passed on many tips to me .
    Id be saying that's Far from the truth .
    It'll be a sad day when racing takes a fall and it Will I'm Sure
    If the BHA does not behave more transparently and ask more questions of Trainers and Jockey.
    Good for Racing , Good for the Punting Public who keep it going .

    1. Hi Richard,

      Some powerful words there and I know your sentiments are shared by others.

      At the lower end of the food chain, so to speak, some of the results have indeed looked atrocious. It's partly why I tend to focus on the better quality action. Most of the lower grade midweek fare is a bit of a minefield.

      Prize money is down this year and many connections are having to lay one out. If they don't they just ain't going to survive. Now you can say that's always been the case but It's even more so now,

      I agree racing can't afford to be we cannot afford to be complacent. Race fixing, in any form, strikes at the very fabric of the sport.

      The covid crisis has given racing a historic opportunity to look at who controls horse race betting. The success of racing bodies around the world with a tote monopoly as against those that depend on bookmakers or who run a system incorporating both testifies to the ‘tote only` model`s supremacy.

      Betting revenue in the hands of the racing authority enables it to plough back enormous sums of money into the all-round development of the sport and the community that supports it.

      It's something I will look at in a future column.

      Cheers
      John

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