It's a fairly low key end to racing in 2016 with Cheltenham on New Year's Day the main attraction this weekend, but Tony Calvin has found two to back at Newbury on Saturday, which will be free-to-air on Racing UK...
"He is up 7lb for that win in what is a far more competitive race but I think there is a lot more to come from him now he is stepped back up to this extended 2m4f. I will be disappointed if he is not in the frame at least."
I know we have had blanks before due to bad weather and foot-and-mouth outbreaks and the like, but presumably this is the first ever Saturday that there has been no racing on terrestrial TV since the sport hit our mainstream channels back in the good old days.
Yes, you are right, I don't know when racing first aired on the Beeb and I haven't got time to look.
The no-show is down to the fact that Channel 4 have pulled up stumps early after losing the gig to ITV, but luckily Racing UK have gone free-to-air. It is on channel 432, and there is an excellent preview programme called Betting Lab that you may be able to catch replayed on Saturday morning (ed: that's enough self promotion TC!) and Newbury will be the first port of call for most punters this weekend.
So let's go through that card in chronological order for you.
Of the raced horses in the opener at 12:10, Siruh Du Lac is by far the most enticing - though the French import Enola Gay is obviously of interest - and he could be the value play against the Nicky Henderson newcomer Percy Street.
The latter is likely to be all the rage given his trainer's record in this race - he won it with a newcomer in 2008 and has won the last two renewals - and the fact that he was a 98-rated horse on the Flat.
But Siruh Du Lac shaped really well when third to Evening Hush at Exeter - the fourth came out and beat Final Choice at Warwick - and that was all the more noteworthy given he was unraced on the Flat and that was his first day at school. I won't tip him but he could be worth looking at each-way.
Horn can play a tune in the 13:15
I don't have a betting opinion at all in the 12:40, but I do like the look of Horatio Hornblower in the 13:15. Back him at 21.020/1 or bigger.
Financial Climate could be very dangerous off a falling mark of 113 in first-time blinkers, but he has been in woeful form, and I prefer the claims of the selection at a similar price.
He hardly looked a flashing blade when plugging on into sixth at Chepstow last time but he caught my eye when staying on into the same position at Ascot previously, and the combination of a 4lb drop in the weights for those two runs and the step up to this 3m2f trip could see him very competitive here. I think the extra 2f will be very much in his favour.
He is now only 2lb higher than when beating dual subsequent scorer Belmount over 3m at Ffos Las only three starts ago.
The Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at 13:50 is a cracking contest but it is hard to quibble with the fact that impressive Aintree winner Robin Roe is the strong favourite here.
The runner-up has won twice since, the third also scored next time, and Dan Skelton immediately namechecked this race as the target for him after that October win.
The four-runner handicap chase at 14:25 features two impressive course winners in Knockgraffon and Cepage but I wouldn't be too surprised if both were beaten by Fred Winter runner-up Romain De Senam. He shaped well behind the subsequent Ascot winner Top Notch at Plumpton, but this isn't a betting race for me.
Boite can go close in the handicap hurdle
The handicap hurdle at 15:00 is a lot more competitive but Boite makes some appeal at odds of 8.07/1 or bigger.
He was an improved horse on the Flat in the summer, rated 95 after winning over 1m6f at Goodwood, and he was a very convincing winner over 2m at Wetherby on his reappearance.
He is up 7lb for that win in what is a far more competitive race but I think there is a lot more to come from him now he is stepped back up to this extended 2m4f. I will be disappointed if he is not in the frame at least.
William Henry sets a fair standard in the 15:35 on his Cheltenham second to Pingshou but he is up against two 90+ rated horses on the Flat in Captain Morley and Altaayil so he may not have it all his own way.
For my thoughts on Horse Racing returning to ITV and my New Year's Day Tips then please follow the link.
Back Horatio Hornblower at 21.020/1 in the 13:15 at Newbury
Back Boite at 8.07/1 in the 15:00 at Newbury