It might be New Year’s Day but the Surf’s up at Cheltenham.
Wiltshire trainer Emma Lavelle is riding a bit of a wave at the moment and her ECLAIR SURF (12.50) looks to have a sound chance.
He was going along nicely upsides smart mare Snow Leopardess when falling three from home at Bangor on his return to action.
Another blunder at a crucial point ended his chance behind subsequent Welsh National hero at Chepstow four weeks ago but he is far from a bad jumper and he likes testing ground. Have 1pt each-way at 10-1.
In-form Ben Pauling’s WHATSUPWITHYOU (2.35) should love the step up to 3m for the first time in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle.
He stayed on well in the closing stages when third in a 2m6f Fontwell chase last time but he seems to find jumping fences a bit of an effort.
The return to hurdles should help and he’s run some of his best races at Cheltenham. He went for home a bit too soon when runner-up at this track last season and he ran a cracker in finishing fourth in the Martin Pipe Hurdle at the Festival in March. Have 2pts each-way at 20-1 with several bookies paying out on five places.
The preceding 2m4f handicap chase also looks wide open but RIDERS ONTHE STORM (2.00) is potentially very well treated.
He won the Grade 1 Ascot Chase a couple of years ago when trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies before losing his form last season.
His debut for new trainer Richard Hobson, when runner-up at Aintree, was a decent effort and he’ll love the softer ground.
If he’s back to anywhere near his old form he will be a big player. Have 1pt each-way at 14-1 with sponsors Paddy Power one of several bookies paying out on six places.
There’s a good card at Exeter where I’m keen on TIDE TIMES (2.25).
He was pulled up in a stronger race at Newbury last time but that was purely down to being badly hampered by a faller.
His chase debut second behind Hunny Moon at Market Rasen, when a last-fence blunder stopped him from getting an awful lot closer to the winner, was a nice start.
The softer ground won’t be a problem. Have 1pt each-way at 7-1.