HAPPY NEW YEAR: A busy New Year’s Day fixture list – DAQMAN runs through all seven races on the Cheltenham card which starts at 12.15pm on expected heavy ground.

Happy New Year to all readers. I’ve concentrated my efforts in getting off to a good start in 2018 by looking at all seven races on the Cheltenham card.

12:15 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Listed)

Ainchea won well enough at Sandown but trainer Colin Tizzard is 0-27 and his last three runners have all been pulled up.

The Mulholland stable is much better form and I have to be with Tikkanbar here. He bolted home by 19 lengths at Plumpton. He is still totally unexposed – the only time he ran below par was in an Aintree Grade 2 bumper when the ground was good and he seems a much better horse with give in the ground.

12:50 Watch Live Racing On BB Handicap Chase

Kerry Lee had a double at Uttoxeter yesterday and can continue the good form this year with Russe Blanc who unseated rider in bottomless ground at Haydock last time out. This will be another stamina test and with the stable in good form and him being on a reasonable mark he could prove best of the quintet.

This race produced a 50/1 shock winner last year and a 25/1 shot in 2015 so anything is possible but the probable favourite Vyta Du Roc looks the danger if adapting to the first time cheekpieces.

1:25 BB Dipper Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)

Willoughby Court beat Yanworth by three lengths in the Ladbrokes Novices’ Chase at Newbury.

The runner-up was beaten three lengths and has a 5lb pull but I feel the form may be confirmed. Yanworth doesn’t look a totally natural chaser (yet) and any jumping errors will be punished around this tough circuit.

Ballyandy made a winning start over fences at Perth in September but hasn’t been seen since and is by no means out of this – he was the Champion Bumper winner here in 2016 and also goes well on testing ground.

2:00 BB Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase

Venetia Williams is another stable hitting form and she can land this with Burtons Well who comes into this on the back of a break and he is still relatively lightly raced.

He was a course and distance fourth here a year ago and was still going well before falling in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Festival. He should love the ground.

2.35 BB Casino Handicap Hurdle

Arthur’s Gift is up another 6lb but is in irrepressible form and should make a bold bid to repeat his course and distance success at the December meeting here.

I’ll take a chance though with Red Rising who is very unexposed and looks a good recruit for the Skeltons.

He is taking a big step up in class but won at Southwell with any amount in hand.

3:10 Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2)

This looks a poor renewal of the Relkeel and I give last year’s winner Agrapart every chance of repeating the success.

He battled on really well under Lizzie Kelly to win this at 16/1 last year – beating L’Ami Serge by a head but it looked a stronger renewal than this one.

The downside is that he hasn’t shown much coming into this, I’ll cover the win bet with a place saver.

3:45 EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club (Listed Standard Open NH Flat Race)

Volcano beat Acey Milan on debut at Exeter and should account for him again today. Acey Milan went on to win really well at Wincanton. They meet on the same weight terms today, so all we need is for Volcano to improve as much as ‘Acey’ did for his first start.

The race is jam-packed with lightly raced sorts though, so it’s a trappy finale.

BET 4.3pts win TIKKANBAR (12.15 Cheltenham)
BET 7.5pts win RUSSE BLANC (12.50 Cheltenham)
BET 12.1pts win (nap) WILLOUGHBY COURT (1.25 Cheltenham)
BET 5.2pts win BURTONS WELL (2.00 Cheltenham)
BET 6pts win SIR CHAUVELIN (2.15 Musselburgh)
BET 4.7pts win RED RISING (2.35 Cheltenham)
BET 3.1pts win, 3.1pts place (stakes saver) AGRAPART (3.10 Cheltenham)
BET 7.8pts win VOLCANO (3.45 Cheltenham)

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