Cheltenham New Year's Day Preview - 01/01/20

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12:15 - Protektorat

The Listed Ballymore Novices Hurdle over two and a half miles sets the tone for the afternoon's racing on New Year's Day and Protektorat for the Skelton's looks to have a huge chance.

The four year old gelding was disappointing last season with the trainer saying that they couldn't control him and therefore get the best out of him.

On his first start this season he finished a decent second Sandown being beat by a decent Nicky Henderson horse and then over the same course and distance in a better race he could only manage second again.

He is very close to being in the winners enclosure and we believe Wednesday could be his day.

12:50 - Equus Secretus

The Class 2 Handicap Chase Over 3 miles 2 furlongs sees plenty of familiar faces in this sphere going at it again and the Ben Pauling trained Equus Secretus looks an interesting entry.

Last season the eight year old ran nicely in easier events with two nice seconds at Huntingdon and Ludlow but this season on his reappearance he showed signs of progression.

He finished third behind a superb gelding for Venetia Williams and in the weights looks one of the more likelier winners of the contest.

13:25 - Champ 4/7

The Grade Two Dipper Novices Chase is the highlight of the New Year's Day meeting at jumps racing HQ and Nicky Henderson's superstar Champ is the one to beat.

Although a short price this should be a formality for this talented eight year old who was a superstar over hurdles landing two Group Ones in the Challow Hurdle and Sefton Novices Hurdle at Aintree.

He was always bought to be a chaser and this season he has tackled the bigger obstacles brilliantly winning both his events at Newbury with the first in a Beginners Chase and second in a tough Grade Two contest.

He is the favourite for the RSA and can only extend his favouritism if going on to win this contest at a course he seemed to handle at the festival.

15:00 - OK Corral

Another horse that will be heading to the Cheltenham festival all being well is Ok Corral for trainer Nicky Henderson who looks overpriced in the market.

The 10 year old at a 9/1 starting price can go very close having been a superb hurdles horse especially at Cheltenham finishing second in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle back in 2018.

Last season he made a lovely start to life over fences when winning nicely at both Plumpton and Warwick before being hit by the Equine Flu and never looking like the same horse all season.

Having already had a first run of the season in a competitive Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury he should be right at it for this.

14:35 - Goodbye Dancer

Another Class 2 Handicap full off smart geldings head to post for the three mile contest and the Fergal O'Brien trained Goodbye Dancer takes the eye.

This nine year old gelding has been fairly consistent throughout his hurdling career and has started the season off nicely with a fourth at Huntingdon that was used as a prep run and then with fitness on his side he scored over course and distance.

He went on to beat 11 runners in a similar event and although now dealing with a penalty for that win he still looks progressive.

15:10 - William Henry

Cheltenham festival winner William Henry returns to a track he is very fond of for the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle that over the years has been won by some smart horses.

This year's renewal looks an absolute cracker and William Henry holds the ability to see the challengers off with his win in the Coral Cup being some of the best hurdle form on offer.

He then went on to finish a smart fourth at Aintree in the Grade One Stayers Hurdle and having performed well fresh in past seasons he should be in the mix.

15:50 - Grand Roi

The final runner of the day for us at Cheltenham is Grand Roi in the Listed Bumper contest only over 1 mile 6 furlongs and this Nicky Henderson trained runner could turn out to be superb.

Having raced twice in France to a modest standard the son of Spanish Moon was moved over to England with Henderson and on his bumper debut at Wincanton went on to win nicely.

The three year old looks a really smart gelding for a top yard and although stepping up in class he should go well and be competitive.

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