Paul Nicholls: The views on my New Year's Day runners at Cheltenham, Exeter and Fakenham
Paul Nicholls has runners across three meetings on New Year's Day, and here the Betfair Ambassador talks about the chances of each...
"While I am conscious that he has had a busy time this season he seems in great form at home and I am expecting another tidy performance from him at a track where the stiff finish plays to his strengths."
- Paul Nicholls on Old Guard
Cheltenham - Course specialist Guard the pick of my quartet
14:00 - Give Me A Copper
He is a very talented horse who has been held back by niggling injuries and has been beaten only once when he has completed a race. After unseating his jockey first time last season he jumped brilliantly when winning at Kempton before another problem forced him onto the sidelines again.
I was hoping to aim Give Me A Copper at the Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury a month ago but he is ready now and hopefully he can start to make up for lost time.
Though I have done as much as I can with him over the last four months and he schooled well on Saturday morning I suspect he will probably improve for the run.
14:35 - Chameron
Things have not gone to plan with Chameron over fences so far. He fell first time then he blundered and unseated Harry Cobden when he was coming to win his race at Ludlow. It's frustrating because we have been very patient with this horse who has been going much better at home this season.
We have decided to switch Chameron back to hurdles for the rest of the campaign before giving him another crack at fences next autumn. I'd say he looks on a high enough mark in this.
14:35 - The Eaglehaslanded
He ran all right last time when I felt he was in front plenty soon enough and I still believe he is going to pop up at a nice price one day in a long distance handicap.
Last season was a total write off for him racing on heavy ground but conditions are in his favour at Cheltenham and he has a nice, light racing weight.
The Eaglehaslanded has been dropped 9lbs since the start of the season and the plan is to ride him with plenty of restraint and try to deliver him late. Sporting each way chance.
15:10 - Old Guard
Two and a half miles round here in goodish ground are probably the ideal conditions for Old Guard who is a course specialist and wasn't suited by stepping back in trip last time. Previously he had run a cracker at Ascot over two and a half miles when serving it up to If The Cap Fits.
While I am conscious that he has had a busy time this season he seems in great form at home and I am expecting another tidy performance from him at a track where the stiff finish plays to his strengths.
Exeter - Dover set for a big run up in trip if Bryony can get him to relax
13:15 - Cliffs of Dover
Settled much better last time at Doncaster where he moved nicely into contention looking like the winner before finishing third to Equus Amadeus.
I suspect he might have just needed the run that day as he had been off for a little while and should have come on for it. I also think he will be suited by this step up in trip at a stiffer track that puts the emphasis on stamina.
The key to his chance is Bryony Frost dropping him at the start and getting him to relax.
13:50 - Greaneteen
He ran better than the results suggests in a hot race at Sandown three weeks ago as he had been on the easy list for a long time after missing last season with a tendon injury. The ground was also plenty soft enough for Greaneteen who lacks experience and was bang there going to two out before getting tired.
A horse that I like, he will be winning races this season and should come on a bundle for that first run for us.
16:05 Mister Tommytucks
He is a full brother to Master Tommytucker who surprised us all by making a winning debut at this course last February as he showed nothing at home. He won on his second start, too, and is going to make a smart chaser.
Mister Tommytucks also doesn't set the world alight on our gallops at Ditcheat but you never really know what they can do until they get to the racecourse. But he is a nice horse and we are looking forward to get him started.
Fakenham - Cavalier has excellent chance in Seller
13:45 - Blu Cavalier
Is a tough and consistent horse who has done well as he hasn't been the easiest to train with issues that have held him back at times. We are dropping him into a seller here because his mark of 143 makes him hard to place following his hat-trick late last season.
We did try him over fences last time at Bangor and he ran well enough without suggesting he has a big future as a chaser.
Blu Cavalier is top on ratings in this seller and it helps her that Lorcan Williams claim takes a handy 5lbs off his back. Excellent chance.
15:40 - Kings Inn
Has been a bit disappointing since joining us from Ireland and I was hoping he would have won over hurdles by now. He did come close last time at Doncaster in finishing second to an in-form horse Remember The Days.
This looks another good opportunity for Kings Inn whose turn is near and continues to go well at home.
*Best chance. Cliffs of Dover 13.15 Exeter. Is a decent staying handicapper on the flat and will appreciate stepping up in trip.