Cheltenham New Year's Day Preview - 01/01/23

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 12:10
Sam Twiston-Davies


J: Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
Days: 51

The first event on the afternoon at Cheltenham looks an absolute cracker with a big field going to post in the Ballymore Maiden Hurdle over 2m 4 1/2f.

We have picked two horses out that should go well and the first is the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Weveallbeencaught, who does look to want three miles in time but only having his second run over hurdles the yard are looking to see how good he can be.

Bought for £210,000 in January of this year off the back of winning a three miles PTP at Dromahane, he was then given to the Twiston-Davies yard and made his rules debut in March at Newbury when winning a bumper ahead of the talented Collectors Item.

Sent hurdling this term he has just been seen the once when staying on extremely well in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham's November meeting over 2m5f.

The winner Hermes Allen looked a very nice type that day but the way he stayed on that day was impressive and set to improve once more back into calmer waters, makes him one to watch.

Could improve for soft ground aswell.

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 12:10
Nico de Boinville


J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
Days: 651

Another very interesting candidate in the race is the Nicky Henderson trained Firestep who has not been seen for 651 days but is obviously very talented from his first two starts before the layoff.

Seen at Southwell in a bumper back in November 2020 when comfortably landing a bumper, he then went to Chepstow in March 2021 and under a penalty made it back to back wins.

Obviously having his issues he has been off the track for over 18 months but now returns to the rack having has a wind operation.

He could be anything and is very exciting now tackling hurdles.

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 12:45
Adam Wedge

Secret Reprieve

J: Adam Wedge
T: Evan Williams
Age: 9
Weight: 11-3
OR: 134
Days: 29

Next up is the Handicap Chase over 3m 2 1/2f and again we have two selections in the race, this time both at each way prices.

The first horse we are giving a chance to is ex Welsh Grand National winner Secret Reprieve, who is now back on the same mark as his win in that event and getting some more juice in the ground should play to his strengths.

Having won the rescheduled Welsh Grand National in January 2021 off a mark of 134, he was then not seen again until next years renewal when finishing a good fifth of 20 off 6lb higher.

Seen once more last season he was pulled up Haydock in the Grand National Trial in a race where only three horses managed to finish the race.

Back for another season ands although nine years of age the gelding is very lightly raced for his age, he ran no race at Carlisle on seasonal debut when obviously needing the run but last time out got back to form in a big way when second to Farinet at Chepstow in the Welsh Grand National Trial, giving the winner 4lb.

He takes on that opponent again in this event but instead of giving weight away he now receives 11lb, in a 15lb swing.

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 12:45
Richard Patrick


J: Richard Patrick
T: Henry Daly
Age: 9
Weight: 11-6
OR: 137
Days: 43

At a bigger price and worth looking at in the each way market for this event is the Henry Daly trained Rapper who has been largely consistent this year.

Winning at Catterick on New Year's Day last year over 3m1f on soft ground, he then made it back to back wins off 3lb higher at Wincanton over the same trip.

Rounding off the season at the Cheltenham festival in the Ultima Handicap Chase, his mark of 143 was too big for him and he never got involved.

Back this season and sent into the competitive London Gold Cup at Ascot on seasonal debut off a mark of 141, he again made no impression.

However, dropping down the handicap to 139 and getting his preferred soft ground at Haydock last time out, he was a good third to the talented Fontaine Collonges in a competitive staying handicap.

Dropped another 2lb to a mark of 137 for this race, he will love any rain that falls and now back to his last winning mark he can't be ruled out.

The trainer is in flying form running at a 38% strike rate.

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 13:20
A P Heskin

Thunder Rock

J: A P Heskin
T: Olly Murphy
Age: 7
Weight: 11-2
OR: 150
Days: 44

One of the feature events of the afternoon is the Grade Two Dipper Novices' Chase and the horse we like is the Olly Murphy trained Thunder Rock.

The gelding has won on both of his runs over fences this term, starting at Uttoxeter over two miles when winning well and improving again last time out when stepping up in trip at Ascot to land a good Novices' Limited Handicap Chase.

Sent into a graded race for the first time rated 150 in handicaps he could take the beating again in his bid for a hat-trick.

He is the highest rated in the field and although performing to his best on good or good to soft ground, he has shown form on heavy to suggest he should handle the rain aswell.

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 13:55
Harry Skelton

Midnight River

J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 8
Weight: 11-4
OR: 145
Days: 50

One of the big races of the afternoon and probably the most competitive is the Paddy Power New Year's Day Handicap Chase, where we have two selections.

The first is the Dan Skelton trained Midnight River who was my idea of the winner of the December Gold Cup before not being declared and having more time to be fresh, he makes obvious appeal again.

A decent hurdler for the Skelton's two seasons ago, he was sent chasing last term and turned into a much improved animal.

This season he has looked better than ever winning at Stratford on seasonal debut when battering Moonlighter by 25 lengths and then next time out when upped into a better race stayed on well into third behind Ga Law and French Dynamite in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at the November meeting.

The more rain that falls the better for this horse and running off the same mark as that third with the form of the two ahead of him working out exceptionally well, he looks an obvious shout.

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 13:55
Nico de Boinville

Fantastic Lady

J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
Age: 8
Weight: 11-1
OR: 142
Days: 52

At a bigger price in the race is the Nicky Henderson trained Fantastic Lady who still looks feasibly treated off a mark of 142 and with a mare winning the race last year, she could follow suit.

A fairly consistent horse for Henderson this year, winning at Warwick in January over 2m4f off a mark of 120 and then backed that up in February when making it back to back wins at Bangor.

Upped into a Grade Two event at Kempton a few weeks later she was not beaten far back in third behind Pic D'Orhy in the Pendil Novices' Chase, but unfortunately she finished the season by unseating her rider at Aintree in the Topham Handicap Chase.

Making her seasonal debut this term in a Listed Mares' Chase at Market Rasen she went on to trounce her rivals, with Zambella back in second that horse franking the form in a big way on her last two runs.

She does step out of her own sex company and is 5lb higher for this event, but at the prices and getting anymore rain, she has solid place claims.

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 14:30
Harry Cobden

Knappers Hill

J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Age: 7
Weight: 11-6
OR: 153
Days: 57

Another big race on the card is the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle over 2m 4 1/2f and the progressive Knappers Hill gets the tentative nod in what looks a very competitive renewal of the race.

Knappers Hill has been a superb horse for Nicholls over the last few years, showing big potential from his bumper days when a winner on all three of his starts, rounding off his season with a win in the 18 runner Grade Two bumper at Aintree, seeing off Grade One winner Stage Star.

Sent hurdling in October 2021, he landed his first two events with ease at Chepstow and then at this meeting under a penalty, but lost his unbeaten record at Ascot in the December when third behind the superstar Jonbon in the Grade Two Kennel Gate.

Sixth of 14 in the Betfair Hurdle when running a decent race, he then lost the plot slightly when only beating two home at Sandown in the Grade Three Handicap Hurdle Final.

Knappers Hill has got back on track after that, rounding off the season with two nice wins at Newton Abbot and Sandown, with the latter being in the Championship Final, with the form taking a boost.

Back for another year, stepped up in trip he got off the mark on seasonal debut for a third straight term at Chepstow in the Silver Trophy Handicap with ease.

Sent into the Grade Two Elite Hurdle he demolished Sceau Royal who normally makes that race his own and obviously showing he is progressing he held a leading chance in the International Hurdle, set to take on the likes of Epatante and I Like To Move It.

However, with Cheltenham's Saturday meeting cancelled and he has been rerouted here where he won't mind the step back up in trip but will not want it too soft and if Cheltenham does become a bog, it might be best to leave this horse.

Very interesting race as you could make a case for nearly every horse in the betting.

Cheltenham - January 01 2023
Cheltenham 15:05
Harry Cobden

Jet Of Magic

J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Age: 7
Weight: 10-2
OR: 126
Days: 38

The final event of the afternoon we have a selection for at Cheltenham is the Class 2 Handicap Hurdle over three miles and near the bottom of the weights Jet Of Magic for Paul Nicholls could have a part to play.

The six year old has been very consistent for the most part of his career winning races for Oliver Greenall at the start of this year over staying trips on soft ground and this season he was switched over to Paul Nicholls.

Seen twice this term the gelding made his seasonal debut at Hereford over 2m 5 1/2f and won a handicap hurdle very easy off 115 and then upped to 122 at Taunton next time out went down by a head to I Spy A Diva, who he was giving weight away to.

Only up 4lb to a mark of 126 he still has wiggle room in his mark and although this is a tougher race, the softer conditions should play to his strengths.