The start of a new year means only one thing to racegoers – that’s right, there’s only a couple of months longer to wait for the pinnacle of the campaign, the Cheltenham Festival.
For those who couldn’t wait any longer, the Prestbury Park course opened for top-level equine action on New Year’s Day. Here’s what we took from the hors-d’oeuvres:
Champers On Ice looks a decent each-way bet for the Albert Bartlett
Trainer David Pipe gave the strongest indication yet that his six-year-old, who franked 7/2 joint-favourite odds to win the Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, will step up in trip at the same track in 10 weeks’ time:
“We thought the softer ground and more galloping track would play to his strengths. There were some decent horses in the race and you could have made a case for four or five of them.
“If he comes back here in March I would say it would be for the Albert Bartlett, although he will have an entry in both (Neptune).”
Champers On Ice can be backed at 20/1 with Ladbrokes in the 3m race.
Unbeaten Neptune hope Shantou Village’s form is holding up
Having crushed Champers On Ice by 15l seven weeks ago at the same track, Neil Mulholland’s lightly-raced gelding, who has won all four of her starts including in March last year at Wetherby, ranks as a serious prospect for this Spring’s festivities.
Shantou Village is 14/1 to win the Neptune, and he doesn’t look likely to get any bigger.
Capeland offers hope of a second home-trained Champion Bumper winner on the bounce
British-trained horses haven’t managed to string two wins in a row together in this race since it was first run in 1992, but after Pipe’s Moon Racer took the laurels in 2015, this Paul Nicholls newbie could be the animal to break the mould.
Among the minefield of Willie Mullins Champion Bumper hopes, there’s no price available with Ladbrokes about Capeland just yet, but keep an eye out for the four-year-old.
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