Cheltenham’s New Year card was abandoned earlier in the week but there is still some excellent racing to welcome in 2021 with the return of the Al Boum Photo the highlight at Tramore. The dual Gold Cup winner has won this race for the last couple of seasons and he looks to have a simple task in search of his hat-trick.
There is the prospect of sleet and snow at Musselburgh on New Year’s Eve on top of ground that was described as good to soft with soft places on Thursday morning.
There is a tremendous handicap hurdle over the minimum trip and Proschema would have been a confident selection on decent ground but that looks unlikely given the forecast although this sharp track will suit. He remains an accident waiting to happen but perhaps not today.
Manucci is potentially well treated having his first start for Tim Vaughan although the stable could be in better form. A market move would be worth noting. Miranda was a fluent winner at Ludlow last time, but a 7lbs rise is harsh and the runner up was beaten 15L at Doncaster over the Festive period. The each way vote – 4s at 10bet – goes to Rosie And Millie (1.55) who looks sure to appreciate this easy 2m on a right-hand track having failed to get up the Sandown hill last time when fourth on heavy ground.
Oscar Ceremony (2.30) won his last couple for Stef Keniry including over today’s C&D back in the spring from a 6lbs lower mark. He is entitled to come on for his seasonal reappearance and first start for Brian Ellison when runner up at Newcastle over a trip – 2m 4f – on the sharp side. He was beaten 18L on that occasion but is likely to strip much fitter for the run. The stable could be in better form although they did have a winner at Newcastle on the level earlier in the week. The gelding is 9/2 with Unibet.
Whiskey Lullaby (3.35) has been a bit disappointing so far this term, but I believe a mark of 111 gives him every chance of making a winning handicap debut for Paul Nicholls in the finale. Bryony Frost takes the ride on the 6-y-old – 5/2 with Boylesports – who is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time.
At Exeter, The Edgar Wallace is likely to be all the rage to break his maiden tag over hurdles at the second attempt having finished fourth at Ascot over further and this slight drop back in trip will suit. Marginal preference, however, is for Fishkov (1.05) who went off far too fast at Uttoxeter on his hurdles debut and is likely to be ridden with more restraint this afternoon. He gets the vote – 7/2 with BetVictor – with the Bailey horse likely to go off a short-priced favourite.
Wagner (2.15) has problems with his breathing and has had a wind operation since disappointing at Carlisle over timber on his reappearance, but this point winner – 9/2 with 10bet – won on his first start after his previous wind procedure and gets the vote in the novices’ handicap chase over 2m 4f. Westend Story has failed to complete in his last three runs and has failed to fulfil the potential he showed over timber.
Muckamore (2.50) found things happening too quickly at Market Rasen on his reappearance and this 3m on soft ground should be ideal for the Nigel Twiston-Davies novice who was a winner between the flags and over timber. He is 2lbs lower over fences than he is over hurdles, but he has the scope to make up into a better chaser.The 13/2 with Willoam Hill looked a bit too big and he is a best price 5s with BetVictor at the time of posting.