We’re betting across not just two days here, but two years as well as we say goodbye to 2022 and welcome in 2023 with some competitive horse racing.
The New Year’s Eve attractions are headlined by Newbury, where Hermes Allen may put up a big performance in the Challow although he is no price at all.
We have one selection from there as well as more from Warwick, Lingfield and Uttoxeter, while on New Year’s Day the big action is at Cheltenham but here, we have three more value punts at Musselburgh over the jumps and at Southwell on the Flat.
Saturday 31st December 2022
1.00 Warwick (Handicap Chase) – TEMPLIER
On the pick of their most recent form and at these weights, there is little doubt that Templier is the best horse in this race.
What really adds to confidence however as that those above in the market are arguably better on quicker ground, while this horse win this very same race last year on soft going.
Templier made a very satisfactory stable debut recently for Cambridgeshire’s Sarah Humphrey, reaching a level of form very similar to what he’d achieved last year going into this contest so at the likely odds he looks to be pretty good value indeed.
7lb claimer Jay Tidball takes the ride, as he did last time out at Fakenham.
1.35 Warwick (Handicap Hurdle) – ONE FER MAMMA
This is a Challenger Stayers’ Hurdle Series Qualifier over 3¼ miles and, if the ground stays testing at Warwick, then the best solution to this little puzzle is likely to be One Fer Mamma.
Matt Sheppard’s gelding was very good around here back in February and got through the mud nicely at Haydock last time too.
In between times, he also improved plenty on similar ground over fences and so I reckon he’ll cope best with the conditions and can quicken in them, possibly better than Sporting Ace. Langley Hundred was next on the shortlist.
2.05 Lingfield (Handicap) – HIGH VELOCITY
This may look like a handicap which is tough to solve at first, bookmakers going around 9/2 the field at the time of writing for what is a decent Class 3, six-furlong handicap.
While after his gelding operation Michael Attwater’s Tadreeb is interesting, as is Harb for Peter Crate who may attempt to make all, the key piece of form here involves last time out winner Tyger Bay over this same course and distance.
Conrad Allen’s runner was ahead of High Velocity and Emperor Spirit that day but considering age, progress, draw and pace, we can expect some turnarounds now.
One such turnaround would be James Tate’s three-year-old High Velocity improving again and appreciating a better draw to perhaps win this under Tom Queally, which I’ll be backing him to do from the inside gate.
2.25 Newbury (Mandarin Handicap Chase) – LASKALIN
Though just a Class 3, the Mandarin Handicap Chase is a famous old event having been run on this card since 1963. Some famous names have been etched on the trophy too.
Three and a quarter miles is the distance for the race, one in which it appears that Venetia Williams’ Laskalin is much the best of the 15 runners.
When he arrived from France, he was given a rating of 143 and while it could have been overegged at the time by the British handicappers, he has simply taken some time to reach his potential but that is happening now.
Having been dropped all the way to 128 last time out at Ludlow, he won with ease and has a few more gears to go into yet on his second start after a breathing operation, with his revised rating of 133 definitely still underestimating him. Charlie Deutsch takes the ride.
2.40 Lingfield (Fillies’ Handicap) – MORGAN FAIRY
Newmarket trainer William Haggas has had a fantastic year and he can finish it off appropriately with yet another winner in this race.
His Morgan Fairy, ridden by main man Tom Marquand, is worth plenty more than her current mark of 86 and it’s a positive that she now returns to a quicker surface having won on good to firm turf as well as on Polytrack.
Charlie & Mark Johnston’s pair Wadacre Grace and Jilly Cooper can both go well, while Sayifyouwill and Crystal Casque are also not out of things in what is a tight heat.
2.53 Uttoxeter (Novices’ Handicap Chase) – LYDFORD LAD
Though we’ve yet to see the form fully tested, I liked the look of Lydford Lad’s chase debut for Harry Fry in which he finished second and I think he could prove to be very well handicapped now.
A natural step forward is expected, something that would simply increase confidence about a horse who I think has already shown himself capable of running to a mark of around 115 or so and he gets in this race off a lowly 107.
Walk In Clover, Immortal Flame and Bak Rocky are others worth considering in this 2½-mile event.
Sunday 1st January 2023
1.35 Musselburgh (Auld Reekie Handicap Chase) – HALF SHOT
Named for nearby Edinburgh, the Auld Reekie is a competitive Class 2 handicap chase run over the extended 2½-mile trip.
This year’s running features a number of rock-solid chasers, albeit those who are not necessarily improving such as Baron De Midleton, Pay The Piper, Gold Des Bois and Minella Drama.
Cooper’s Cross may have more to give, while that is especially true of Half Shot who won with authority last time out and the form of that victory is working out very well indeed.
He beat Creative Control by 10 lengths who has since won, while just behind in third was Hidden Commander who has gone on to score twice.
It should also be pointed out that after that success, Half Shot also came out and won over hurdles with performance at least 5lbs better than what he’d managed in that sphere before.
2.45 Musselburgh (Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle) – AL ZARAQAAN
Al Zaraqaan and Homme Public are arguably the two to concentrate on here, the former now looking for a five-timer over hurdles.
What strikes me is that his speed figures across all race types are nothing to write home about, yet he has won a Flat race on turf, 4/9 on the all-weather and his last four in a row over hurdles.
It suggests, along with a few other informational nuggets, that’s he’s never been truly tested and finds things easy when getting preferred conditions so we don’t know just how far he could go.
3.56 Southwell (Fillies’ Conditions Stakes) – MANAAFITH
This is a fast-track qualifier for the valuable All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Newcastle on Good Friday in April. Run over seven furlongs, it features just five fillies and mares, all carrying 9st.
Roger Varian’s Shadwell filly Manaafith is now 4 from 4 on the all-weather, her best and most recent win coming over this course and distance.
In real terms, given her improvement, she could prove to be around 7lbs clear of the others here, but she’s not well clear on official ratings meaning we may yet be handed a backable price for her.