In 2014 we’ve seen a former Gold Cup winning jockey take the Gold Cup as a trainer, a jockey who had previously retired win the Grand National, and Paul Nicholls take a ridiculously impressive ninth King George, let’s hope 2015 is a cracker.
And what better place to start off the new year than Cheltenham, the home of jumps racing.
There will be four contests from Prestbury Park shown live on Channel 4 that you can take advantage of our fantastic 4/1 Free Bet offer.
You can listen to Ladbrokes News’ William Geldart and Ben Stones discuss the quartet of live contests here…
And with a whopping 69% of our three best bets in the last two months making the places, yet returning just four winners, we are either each-way kings or perennial nearly-men, you decide!
Either way, we are looking to start 2015 in style with these three (though you may want to back them each way)!
It’s probably fair to say that this horse loves Cheltenham. So much so that trainer Martin Keighly has felt it appropriate to pitch his charge at Prestbury Park 14 times in his 27-race career.
The 10-year-old may have been disappointing of late, but that can be put down to big weight having to be lumped round in competitive handicaps.
But now is his time. He’s down to a career-low mark of 143 and has the capable hands of Conor Shoemark taking off a further 3lbs.
He beat Menorah here over course and distance in April 2013, that being his last victory, so clearly has talent.
With his mark dropping 9lbs this season, he returns to a track that he was seventh in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and could go close.
A half-brother to Pertemps Final runner-up and Grade 2 winning chaser Southfield Theatre, Paul Nicholls could have another useful prospect on his hands.
The six-year-old steps out of novice company for the first time in this tricky handicap and does look to perhaps be well treated compared to some of his other challengers.
He ran out an easy 13l winner at Taunton last time out when well backed into 2/5, and similar market confidence could be telling.
The fact that he stays slightly further than this trip could be vital if the pace is a strong one, and he could be the one surging up the Cheltenham hill to victory.
This looks a very tricky race, with two Nicky Henderson charges in Beat That and Vaniteux likely to pose stiff opposition, though we are siding with the 2012 Champion Hurdler.
Beat That comes here on seasonal reappearance, and could well be tapped for two over 2m4f, having done the best of his winning at 3m last season, while Vaniteux, although he receives 8lbs from the top three, was easily dispatched by The New One last time out.
Instead we are backing Harry Fry’s charge to continue a revival at a track he loves.
A winner of a course and distance Grade 2 at the start of December, he should have conditions bang in his favour.
And with 2m looking a little sharp for him these days, the intermediate trip he will face at Prestbury Park will suit him better than many of his rivals.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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