January 1st brings in not only a new year but a new dawn for horse racing.
Racing ‘Premierisation’ makes its debut at Cheltenham where I’ve landed on one selection to go alongside a 12/1 poke at Newcastle in what will hopefully be a profitable start to 2024.
1:30 – Paddy Power Handicap Chase (Class 2) (5YO plus) 3m 1½f
Angels Breath is a horse I absolutely love. He won on rules debut in 2018 when I backed the second Danny Kirwan who I thought would end up being a nice horse. Angel ended up being sent off a single-figure price for that season’s Supreme Novices Hurdle – the year Klassical Dream destroyed the field. Although he never troubled the winner that day he was going well for a long way and in hindsight he probably didn’t have the pace to win a Supreme.
Ever since that day nearly five years ago, the Shantou gelding has only had a mere seven runs and there’s certainly still life in him off a mark of 139.
Last seen running 7th behind Stage Star in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, he sat nicely in mid-division for a long period of the race but his jumping was too inconsistent to win that day.
After starting to fall back near the five pole his race was certainly over and Jonathan Burke would’ve received no criticism for pulling the horse up at that point, but instead he plugged on really well at one pace to finish, beaten 31 lengths – a number that could’ve been triple figures as he jumped the third last fence.
All of his best winning form has come on soft and heavy going and he steps up to three miles for the first time since his 12 length heavy ground point victory in 2018 which looks to suit him after the way he finished off his race in November.
Opposition includes Irish raider Stumptown who’s 7lb higher than his silver medal effort in the Kim Muir and Cloudy Glen who’s not shown much lately and his best days are likely behind him. Angels Breath might just be the class angle in this race and at 9/2 he’s a bet.
3:45 – BetMGM: It’s Showtime Handicap (Class 2) (4YO plus) 1m
Dear My Friend is a 12/1 chance in the feature Class 2 handicap at Newcastle for Charlie Johnston.
The Pivotal gelding has some top class form if you look back far enough and as a 2yo he was only beaten 5 lengths in defeat in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes before running a creditable 3rd in a Listed race in France when beaten 2 lengths to subsequent Breeders’ Cup winner Victoria Road and four-time Group One winner Blue Rose Cen.
After winning the Listed Burradon Stakes on seasonal reappearance at All-Weather Finals Day, the Johnston team stepped up a notch with some high level pattern targets that included the Dante, the Derby and the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot.
Although unplaced on all three of those occasions, Dear My Friend has been dropped down to a workable mark of 97 and has been through wind surgery and a gelding operation in preparation for a 2024 campaign.
With a fair enough draw in 9 I expect this course and distance winner to sit in rear division ready to pick up the pieces under Joe Fanning just like he did in April and at 12/1 he’s a fair bet.
BACK Angels Breath to win the 1.30 at Cheltenham 2pts at 9/2 (⭐
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BACK Dear My Friend to win the 3:45 at Newcastle 1pts at 12/1 (⭐
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PROFIT/LOSS (JAN 2024): PROFIT +0.00 points