New Year's Day Racing Tips: Trust Henri to get 2017 off to a flyer

Tony has a couple of selections to consider at Cheltenham on New Year's Day
Tony has a couple of selections to consider at Cheltenham on New Year's Day

ITV is the new home of televised racing and the channel commences its coverage with a classy looking card at Cheltenham, plus a few races from Musselburgh, and here hoping to start 2017 with a bang is our resident tipster Tony Calvin...


"He travelled so well for much of that Aintree run that I think he will be fully effective in a strongly-run race over this extended, and the change of headgear from cheekpieces to a visor is also very interesting."

Back Henri Parry Morgan at 13.012/1 in the 14:00 at Cheltenham

It's easy to be drawn into nostalgia about the return of ITV to racing on New Years' Day as, like many, some of my earliest racing memories were from watching the coverage with my dad in the front room.

I frequently pestered him to ring the local bookie on the corner for me, and put 50p each-way on the odd late fancy. I was never a favourite backer, even in those days, though the old man certainly was. It was his default mechanism, god rest his soul.

I vividly recall John Jenkins' grey Beat The Retreat winning for me one day at a big price, though I am not entirely sure that race was on ITV. Racing historian Rory Delargy will no doubt put me right if reading this. If he can't he will be able to identify a picture of the horse, on Twitter, anyway.

Anyway, I digress.

I am sure that there will be plenty of column inches about the new team and style in the coming weeks, but it has always puzzled me how so many journalists and columnists in the racing media, and Horsemen too, can have a strong opinion on the afternoon terrestrial coverage.

Presumably, most are working on track when the terrestrial coverage is on - though I do know of one Racing Post scribe who records the show and watches it when he gets home (remarkably, he isn't single) - and those who aren't surely flick between the two other dedicated channels going from race-to-race.

I can't remember the last time I had Channel 4 Racing on in the afternoon when I was at home (or when around friends' houses), and anyway you can't judge the coverage as a whole from the odd watch here and there, though I am more judgemental than the next man, granted.

So good luck to ITV, and I will leave the analysis to others and concentrate on what people follow and watch racing for.

Betting.


***


Clan Des Obeaux is the rightful favourite in the novices' chase at 13:25 after a scintillating effort at Newbury last time.

But this is no gimme and he is 0 from 2 at this course. It could be coincidence, and he didn't run badly in either start, but at around the 5-4 mark he is easily passed over.

The race that most interests me from a punting point of view on the card is the handicap chase at 14:00.

I made no secret of how much I fancied Quite By Chance in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup here last time, and put him up at 20-1 each-way.

In the event, he ran a stormer to finish a closing fourth after being hampered at halfway - he had to swerve around a faller, lost ground, and was only beaten just over two lengths - and he has to be considered a big player here.

I will have a saver on him at 9.08/1 but my main bet is Henri Parry Morgan at 13.012/1 or bigger.

I actually put him up at 20-1+ in this column when he ran an absolute screamer to split Native River and Blaklion over 3m1f at Aintree in April, form on which he is handicapped to win off a mark of 148.

The problem is that he has disappointed in all of his three starts since, not completing in two, and comes here just a week after unseating his rider at Wetherby.

But it wasn't a bad mistake, and presumably all is well with him, and there are two angles to him that I like, aside from the merit of that Aintree second.

The first is the step back in trip. He travelled so well for much of that Aintree run that I think he will be fully effective in a strongly-run race over this extended, and the change of headgear from cheekpieces to a visor is also very interesting.

Bowen is 10 from 48 when applying first-time visor to his horses since 2007, and that is a very impressive strike-rate, and one that was a very profitable angle to follow too from a betting point of view. He knows what he is doing on that score, so let's hope the horse does, too.


***


In the 14:35 I strongly suspect the progressive Rocklander will win if he stays the trip, but unfortunately that is a very big if.

He finished an excellent second in a good time over an extended 2m2f at Exeter last time, but this is a half-mile longer trip than he has ever raced over before - and he hasn't looked a particularly strong stayer in his three starts over 2m4f - and that just puts me off. I seriously toyed with chancing him at around a double-figure price, though.

I think Lil Rockerfeller is rock-solid at around the 3-1 mark in the Relkeel at 15:10 but you know me by now. I can let these shorter-priced ones win unbacked, but he is by far the likeliest winner in my book.

In the earlier races on Racing UK I think Coo Star Sivola and Poetic Rhythm in the opener and Arpege D'Alene in the 12:50 are worth a look, though the latter probably won't be getting any of my money as he has predictably been very well found in the market. Very well found, in fact.


***


ITV are also at Musselburgh, and first up north of the border is the handicap chase at 13:40.

This looks a trappy little race, with a few obvious candidates like Germany Calling and Viens Chercher after good recent Doncaster efforts, but Runswick Royal is undoubtedly interesting coming here off the back of a long absence.

I don't know why he has been off since June 2015 but, looking at his record, the thing that struck me was how consistent he is when completing. A record of 12 top-two placings (six of those wins) from 21 starts is impressive enough, but he is rarely beaten far even when his colours are lowered.

And he also goes well when fresh, as he underlined when beating Yorkist after a seven-month absence in January 2015.

He posted one of his better efforts over hurdles when fourth in the handicap on this card three years ago, the handicapper has dropped him 4lb in his absence, and good ground suits him well.

At odds of 11.010/1 or better, he is well worth chancing.

In the handicap hurdle at 14:50 Eyes Of A Tiger should be hard to kick out of the frame at around the 5-1 mark after a good second at Doncaster last time, and an each-way play on him would be the way to go if I was betting on the race.

But I'm not, so no more bets from me. Have a good one and, remember, don't over-stake or chase if you are reading this on New Years' Day after a skinful, or seven.

Hungover punting can be very costly, as I suspect we all know far too well.


Recommended Bets

Back Runswick Royal at 11.010/1 in the 13:40 at Musselburgh
Back Henri Parry Morgan at 13.012/1 in the 14:00 at Cheltenham
Back Quite By Chance at 9.08/1 in the 14:00 at Cheltenham


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