With dreams of eight maids a-milking probably best forgotten, from the window of my office at the Chateau d’If, I can see the Starlings getting increasingly territorial and vocal about their birdfeeders. A TV in the background offers a choice of apocalyptic disaster movies or nature programmes with Chris Packham admonishing me for breathing. The super genius who was renewing my computing installations has managed to backup files in such a way that a Cloud-service is now demanding I invest £6bn a nano-second in storage. It further transpires they’re not backups at all, but the not-inconsequential operating system profile. An emergency dental appointment, the onset once again of arthritis in the wrist, and the end of the year is pretty well exactly as predicted. – even for the Starlings. Still and all, I have some King Prawns, which I intend doing in some garlic, chilli and passata for supper, which together with some crusty french bread and a green salad, alongside a bottle of chilled Cornish Camel Valley, (a gift from my Father-in-Law to thank me for allowing him to buy the Christmas Turkey!), will all make the evening fly by until we have a Zoom with the County’s finest to toast in the New Year and to wish a Happy Birthday to all the racehorses in the world. The next six months will prove stimulating, and time spent now on some robust and cunning plans will probably not be wasted.
Talking of Masterplans that might go awry, here are the tips for New Year’s Day, the first of 365 which I hope will fill your hearts with gladness and your souls with kindness.
1:20 MUSSELBURGH Betway Hcap Hdl Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 2m4f
I’m not quite certain what the future holds for ELF DE RE. Last season, he seemed to be putting together a nice hurdling career, (3122) coming second in a G2 which has produced several winners. This season he has been chasing, but he is not quick on the landing side, and he stays low, which is not necessarily a good profile for chasing. He’s back here off a decent hurdling mark of 134, and his trainer performs well at the track, so I wonder whether Sandy Thomson is being a bit canny. I’M TO BLAME keeps flashing on my radar, and I wouldn’t put you off backing him, but I can’t be tipping him as he is still 11lbs higher than his last winning mark. However, in a very tight race, I can’t let NEWTOWN BOY go by, who won here over the distance LTO at his current price of 8s is too big. I suggest Dutching the two selection for 4pts.
ELF DE RE – NEWTOWN BOY Dutch Win
1:40 EXETER Paddy Power ‘2020 In The Bin’ Mares’ Hcap Hdl Cl3 (4yo+ 0-125) 2m2½f
LILY THE PINK found 3m and the ground were beyond her LTO. She has decent form and was a C&D winner here, this time last year. I was interested to see KINGSMILL GIN’s price and might have tipped him, but I think they’ve dropped him back too far in distance. That said, keep an eye on him.
LILY THE PINK e/w
1:55 MUSSELBURGH Betway Hogmaneigh Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+) 1m7½f
HAZZAAR was at one time very highly regarded but seemed to have slightly lost the way. This drop back to the minimum distance and fitting first-time cheekpieces might make 8/1 look a very generous price. PROSECHEMA has a chance on the better ground, and his LTO PU in the Greatwood was a combination of a lost shoe and the dreadful ground. However, he is also a pretty tight price, and there was plenty of promise shown by MANUCCI in his first hurdling season. In February, when with Amanda Perrett, he was 13l behind Gordon Elliott’s Grand Roi who went on to win a G2 at Limerick. That seems decent form.
HAZZAAR e/w – MANUCCI e/w
2:15 EXETER Paddy’s Rewards Club Novices’ Limited Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+ 0-135) 2m3f
This is a very tight little race in every sense, and I have it between CHOOSEYOURWEAPON and ORRISDALE. The latter was a winner over trip and ground at Uttoxeter last season, and he showed strength LTO over 3m at Wetherby which I thought too far. He’s dropped back, and if he’s ridden prominently he’ll have an excellent chance. CHOOSEYOURWEAPON is well regarded in Evan Williams’ yard, and he was pulled up LTP after a 974-day absence.
2:37 TRAMORE Savills New Year’s Day Chs (G3) (5yo+) 2m5½f
AL BOUM PHOTO won this in 2019 & 2020, and his next race saw him take The Gold Cup on both occasions. He’s tough to oppose here.
AL BOUM PHOTO Win
2:50 EXETER Paddy Power Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+ 0-130) 3m
Keep an eye on withdrawals here, as there are eight runners and thus three places. As winners go, I have it between the favourite ASK ME EARLY and MUCKAMORE. The latter has solid form of 221 over hurdles and was well supported on his chase debut six weeks back, going of favourite. The whole thing just looked too fast for him, and perhaps he needs real cut to slow the pace down. He’s an ex-pointer and this longer trip, and testing ground will see him go close. ASK ME EARLY hosed up in his handicap chasing debut, and Harry Fry had got him there off a very handy weight. I would like to dutch the pair. If there are eight runners and the magical third place, then I do fancy FINDUSATGORCOMBE. He won here LTO over 3m5f, and he’s also won over this trip here under today’s jockey Richie McLernon a little over a year ago. He only has 10st and is only 1lb out of the handicap. Which means he’s carrying a stone less than everyone else.
ASK ME EARLY and MUCKAMORE Durch for 3 pts – FINDUSATGORCOMBE e/w (only if 8 runners)
3:05 MUSSELBURGH Betway ‘Auld Reekie’ Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-145) 2m4½f
COOL MIX is consistent and ran well when 3rd in the Rehearsal Chase LTO at Newcastle. He has a decent cruising speed and stamina and can take this at around 4s.
COOL MIX Win