New Year's Day Racing Tips: Two big priced fancies to get 2014 off to a flyer

Tony has a fancy at Musselburgh for New Year's Day
Tony has a fancy at Musselburgh for New Year's Day

Our big prices tipster Tony Calvin has eyes on the New Year's Day cards at Cheltenham and Musselburgh as he looks to start the year with a bang - just don't mention Restless Harry...

"She comes from the red-hot Oliver Sherwood yard and ran her best race for a long while when third at Ascot last time, for which the handicapper has kindly dropped her 1lb. She finished second in a bumper here, and there could be more to come after that reappearance effort at Ascot."

Back Florafern in the 13:55 at Cheltenham at 14.013/1 or better


Those of you who follow me on Twitter - @tony_calvin if interested - will not be surprised to read that Restless Harry appearing among the declarations at Cheltenham on New Year's Day opened up a fresh, and very deep, wound of mine.

Because I tipped him in this column for Saturday's racing at Newbury, backed him myself to win a right few quid, saw his odds collapse from an early morning 12/1 into 7/2 favouritism - and then be effectively be brought down (though the form book says 'unseated' that is a touch harsh on Charlie Poste) by the fall of Shaking Hands at the sixth.

I can tell you with some certainty that shaking hands with anybody was not the top of my agenda for quite a while after witnessing that!

I am normally a very good loser - years of practice helps soften the punting blows - but for some reason I felt mortified by that mishap. That may seem a massive over-reaction, but that is how I felt. 

I don't like tipping losers for a start, but sometimes as a punter you become convinced that a horse will win, and throughout Saturday I had a growing sense of certainty that Restless Harry would. 

I posted on Twitter on Sunday that I have never been more depressed about a losing tip/bet -it wasn't even the money side of the equation that particularly grated - and I meant it. For, even though I admitted it was an irrational feeling given that he only came to grief at the sixth, I am convinced that he would have bolted up.

So what to do now, as he turns out again so quickly for the 12:45 at Cheltenham on New Year's Day? 

Well, the cat is well and truly out of the bag with him now after Saturday's betting plunge, and I don't think we'll be seeing prices of 12/1 this weekend anywhere.

I suspect that he is a very well-handicapped horse and may win, even away from his beloved Newbury and in a far stronger race than Saturday, but thankfully Restless Harry is not running in a C4 race, so I'll leave you to decide what to do. I won't be laying him though, and if he is a double-figure price I will have a dabble.

A common feature of this season's racing has been ridiculously small fields for novice chases, and that is the case again with just four runners lining up for the Dipper. But even that paltry turn-out is bigger than the field assembled for the £25,000 hurdle. So no bets there, obviously. 

Cheltenham 13:55 - Florafern

The handicap hurdle is a fascinating race, with likes of The Giant Bolster, Poungach and Burton Port - as well as the blinkered-first-time Quartz De Thaix - reverting to hurdles, and 2012 Albert Bartlett third Grand Vision returning after a long lay-off.

I was particularly interested in Grand Vision and nearly took a flier on him off a mark of 141, but common sense got the better of valour and I sided with Florafern instead.

She is probably the least "sexy" tip in here, as the case for her is straightforward. She comes from the red-hot Oliver Sherwood yard and ran her best race for a long while when third at Ascot last time, for which the handicapper has kindly dropped her 1lb.

She finished second in a bumper here, and there could be more to come after that reappearance effort at Ascot, so she rates a solid bet at 14.013/1 or bigger.

Forgive Silver Roque a shocker behind Double Ross here last time, and he has definite chances in the 14:30, especially as it is interesting that his trainer has reached for first-time blinkers.

Musselburgh 14:10 - Ultimate

But it looked a tricky nine-runner handicap to me - Double Ross did us a favour last time and is the obvious favourite - with no real juice from a betting perspective, so I moved on to Musselburgh and immediately homed in on Ultimate in the 14:10. Back him at odds of 10.09/1 or bigger.

He has run two good races over fences this season, but it is not in the least bit surprising that Brian Ellison has switched him to hurdles, over which he rated 15lb lower than over fences.

His form figures over hurdles at this track read 2-3-5-4-2, including a fourth in this race last year and a second to Ifandbutwhynot on his most recent venture here, and he is 4lb better off with the winner for 2 ¾ lengths today.

His 7lb claimer Craig Gallagher is not a name that has come across my radar much but a strike-rate of 17% over hurdles (five from 30) this season suggests he is not without ability. 

Just don't get brought down and unseat son, as I couldn't take another kick in the cojones just yet. 

Recommended Bets
Back Florafern in the 13:55 at Cheltenham at 14.013/1 or better
Back Ultimate in the 14:10 at Musselburgh at 10.09/1 or better

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open your account today using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn - £/€20 Back in cash if your bet loses
Bet Now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles