Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, has a look into the Cheltenham card on New Years Day and picks 4 to follow.
REVE DE SIVOLA (2.00) can continue his love affair with Cheltenham by bagging the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase on Saturday.
My selection boasts a course record of 14226236 from eight starts, including a second prize behind Peddlers Cross at last season’s Festival. Reve De Sivola needed plenty of encouragement to reel in Wishfull Thinking here three weeks ago and, hopefully, the race will be run at a strong gallop to bring his reservoir of stamina into play.
TARANIS (2.35) is another course specialist and Paul Nicholls’ top weight should go close in the Victor Chandler-sponsored handicap chase. The nine-year-old figured prominently for a long way in the Hennessy under Nick Schofield, who also had the mount when Taranis trounced Carruthers at Cheltenham last January. He also got the verdict in a driving finish with Our Vic in the 2007 Ryanair Chase and, furthermore, scored at Prestbury Park as a novice chaser.
Continuing the theme of course winners, KARABAK (12.55) is taken to confirm Relkeel Hurdle placings with Any Given Day, despite a 4lb turnaround in the weights. Tony McCoy looked home and hosed on Karabak turning for home that day but just when it appeared he had put the race to bed, along came Any Given Day with a strong challenge at the last flight. Karabak had to dig deep up the run-in but was back in charge where it mattered. A similar scenario could unfold here.
On the all-weather at Southwell, I suggest an interest in ROYAL ISLAND (3.40), whose trainer Mick Quinlan was in the headlines after landing a spectacular coup with two horses at Lingfield on Thursday. Unlike those two winners, Royal Island is totally exposed after a winter campaign on the synthetic surfaces, but a repeat of his run when second here three weeks ago will put him in the shake-up. His fourth behind Bentley two days’ earlier received a boost when the winner bolted up again at Southwell earlier this week.