As 2016 comes to a close, 2017 begins with the annual New Year’s Day meeting at Cheltenham – the penultimate meeting at the Cotswolds until the Festival in March. We’ve had a look at the card and identified three to watch:
Clan Des Obeaux – 1.25pm Sunday: Paul Nicholls’s hugely exciting 4-yr-old really burst onto the novice chasing scene last time out at Newbury when demolishing a good field in a Grade 2 Novice Chase (the 2nd has subsequently gone on to finish 2nd in a Grade 1). He’s already run twice at Cheltenham, finishing 2nd in a Triumph Hurdle trial last January and then finishing 6th in the Triumph Hurdle itself. A display here, similar to the one at Newbury, may see him vault to the top of most ante-post lists for the good novice chases at the Festival.
Village Vic – 2.00pm Sunday: Village Vic is a standing dish around here and is definitely improving with age. He finished 2nd in the Bet Victor Gold Cup in November and then ran an astonishing race (off a 22lb higher mark than last year’s victory) to be beaten only 2L by Frodon in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup back here 4 weeks later. He’ll be difficult to catch once he gets out on the lead.
Cole Harden – 3.10pm Sunday: The Relkeel Hurdle looks like cutting up badly but if Cole Harden stands his ground he should be hard to beat. A convincing winner of the 2015 World Hurdle, he finished a well-beaten 4th to Thistlecrack in last year’s renewal and following a pipe-opener in a novice chase at Wetherby recently he should be spot on here.
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