What’s on this week: festival clues on show as the new year starts with a bang | Horse Racing News

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Champ: is set to contest the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day

Martin Lynch


A Listed mares’ novice hurdle (2.25) at Taunton provides an exciting start to the week with a few smart prospects among the seven runners.

Deja Vue bids for a hat-trick after winning her last two by a combined total of 51 lengths and takes on eyecatching mare Midnights’ Gift, who bolted up in a Listed contest at Aintree three weeks ago.

Other rivals include Marie’s Rock, who has won both her starts, and the Paul Nicholls-trained Silver Forever.

Silver Forever: heads to Taunton on Monday

Steve Davies

Over at Haydock, there is an intriguing 3m4½f handicap chase (2.00) among the seven races, while Lingfield supplies the all-weather action for the afternoon.


It’s the final racing day of the decade and a potential cracker is on the cards in the 2m3½f hurdle (1.45) at Punchestown.

Sizing John, winner of the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, is among the possible runners for Jessica Harrington and he could take on this year’s Cesarewitch winner Stratum.

Le Richebourg was the ante-post favourite for last season’s Racing Post Arkle before missing out due to injury, but he could return to action for Joseph O’Brien, while the Andrew Gemmell-owned Discorama is also entered.

Le Richebourg: could make his first appearance of the season for Joseph O’Brien


In Britain, Uttoxeter and Warwick host jump racing while Lingfield stages another all-weather card.


The new year kicks off with a bang with eight fixtures across Britain and Ireland, including a couple of Grade 2s at Cheltenham.

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Last year’s Dipper Novices’ Chase (1.25) saw the first of three thrilling battles between Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation, and this time we could see the Nicky Henderson-trained Champ line up. He has won seven of his last eight starts and will look to showcase his RSA Chase credentials.

Henderson also has a strong hand in the Relkeel Hurdle (3.10) with Janika and Top Notch at the top of the betting, but they will no doubt be pushed all the way by last season’s Mares’ Hurdle winner Roksana.

Top Notch: won the Peterborough Chase in December

Steve Davies

Four other meetings over jumps take place in Britain – Catterick, Exeter, Fakenham and Musselburgh – but if you fancy some Fibresand action then Southwell stages a seven-race card on the all-weather.

In Ireland, the Grade 3 New Year’s Day Chase (2.20) at Tramore features some tasty names, including last season’s Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, who has not been seen since finishing second to Kemboy in the Punchestown equivalent last May.

Fairyhouse also stages a seven-race card.


A quieter day as Lingfield hosts an all-weather card in the afternoon, with Chelmsford taking over in the evening. Ayr is the sole place to find jump racing.


The 7f fillies’ conditions stakes (3.10) at Wolverhampton looks the standout race of the day, with the victor earning a place at All-Weather Championships Finals day on Good Friday. Course-and-distance winner Invitational is among the seven possibles for Roger Varian.

Musselburgh and Hereford supply the rest of the afternoon’s entertainment, while the evening action comes from Southwell.

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The Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (2.25) at Sandown is the feature on a day in which all five cards come from Britain.

Fans of jump racing can also get their fix from Newcastle and Wincanton, while all-weather racing comes from Lingfield in the afternoon and Kempton in the evening.


The Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle (1.50) brings the week to a close in style, with last year’s Champion Bumper winner Envoi Allen looking to extend his winning run under rules to seven.

Envoi Allen: runs in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle on Sunday

Patrick McCann

However, the Gordon Elliott-trained five-year-old, who is the hot favourite for the Ballymore at Cheltenham, could face stiff competition from stablemate Fury Road, who is also unbeaten over hurdles and landed a Grade 2 at Limerick this month.

Iit’s a quiet day in Britain with racing coming from Southwell and Plumpton.

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