Alex Hammond’s racing blog and tips including Racing Post Gold Cup at Cheltenham

The traditional start to the racing year should look relatively normal with a large crowd expected in Cheltenham on New Years Day.

Having been to Chepstow on Coral Welsh Grand National day with only a handful of owners, coaches and essential staff, I can report that I felt like we were back in the dark days of full lockdown.

It was sad that the racecourse was back behind closed doors on its biggest day of the year and big race winner Iwilldoit certainly deserved the great Welsh welcome that would normally host one of their own in the winner’s enclosure. .

It wasn’t sad, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt Coach Sam Thomas’ enjoyment of his most prestigious winner to date.

Racing fans at Cheltenham have what to expect with a quality map in prospect.

the Paddy Power Novice’s Chase (the Dipper for most of us) has attracted a field of good pursuit prospects. The Press Man is Sky Bet’s 7/4 favorite, and rightly so, he won convincingly at Ascot last time around.

I cared about him at Ascot because he looked the most progressive horse in this graduation race and it turned out to be. However, as Sky Bet offers cash if you are second or third, I can give it up here.

The queen of the gaze has made a really good impression since going hunting and is now two out of two on the bigger obstacles. She is an intelligent mare and the allocation of 7 pounds for her sex in this event makes her an attractive betting proposition. She has exceptionally competed in two Champion Bumpers at the Cheltenham Festival, with credit in both.

The first saw her finish the closest with a fifth length of 7 behind Envoy Allen and the following season she was beaten to 23 lengths in the eighth behind Ferny Hollow after struggling in the race. So, receiving weight in there and 100/30 with Sky Bet, I’m going to take my chances on her to win this prestigious novice hunt.

As I take on Venetia Williams’ L’Homme Presse in The Dipper, I think she has strong claims to win Grade 3. New Years Paddy Power Handicap Chase for the second time in three years. Aso justified the favoritism two years ago for the Herefordshire-based coach and Tightrope walker Sivola will aim to mimic this (6/1).

I thought he would win the Fitzdares Peterborough Chase last time around and he ran well but had to settle for second behind First Flow. In his last start last season, he finished second behind Shishkin in the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree. Although he was firmly put in his place by star Nicky Henderson, he was the best of the rest and is a progressive young pursuer.

Besides, if the 16 declared horses hold up, Sky Bet will pay 6 places instead of 4. In this case, I would be interested to see how Riders on the Storm becomes new trainer Richard Hobson. He showed up well on his stable debut at Aintree last month and this eccentric individual certainly has the ability to run well here.

He won the Grade 1 Ascot Chase in February 2020 (when he had a 162 rating), his run last month with a handicap on a reduced rating of 147 was good and a reproduction would see him come close to the same rating here. It’s an 11/1 move.

Later in the afternoon, I hope the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle can take the path of Brewin’upastorm (11/8 favorite with Sky Bet).

I have always been a fan of this horse and I was upset to see him make the frightening mistake which resulted in his rider’s fall in the 2020 Arkle Trophy, a mistake which deeply shaken his confidence.

After the last two consecutive places on the fences, his trainer Olly Murphy made the wise decision to return to the hurdles, a smart move that has since seen the horse show the shine that made him such an exciting prospect a few seasons ago. .

He returned this season to Aintree in November after having had a wind operation in the summer and my God he was awesome. The Relkeel looks tailor-made for him during the intermediate 2.5 mile trip and his confidence is high thanks to this adventure from Aintree.

His main rival in the market is this Grade 2 winner last year, McFabulous, but he was beaten by Brewin ‘in the National Spirit at Fontwell in February and hopefully the same happens here.

I’m going to Plumpton on Sunday for the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National.

He looks more competitive than ever. The last two winners of this permanent pursuit are back with 2020 winner Christmas In April aiming for a top mark of 11 pounds and Seaston Spirit now 3 pounds less than in its success last January due to four disappointing runs since. his victory.

So this can be difficult for the two for different reasons, but hopefully they both perform well for Colin Tizzard and Oliver Sherwood teams respectively.

The one who would be dangerous to throw off his flyweight is Eragon de Chanay which crept in as a bottom weight with 10 stones 3 lbs.

He’s from Gary Moore’s scorching stable and if he can perfect his jump, this endurance test might be fine for him with very little weight to carry.

Gary Moore has won it twice in the past and another victory would equate to Colin Tizzard’s three wins in this race which was established in 2001.

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