Saturday, December 31, 2022

The 2023 Paddy Power New Year's Day Handicap Chase

Since the freeze I've found myself struggling to find a winner - that's the Big Freeze of 1963, you understand -  and with seventeen declared for tomorrow's New Year's Day Handicap Chase (1.55 Cheltenham) the Sisyphean search seems likely to continue for some time yet.

There has been plenty of rain around today. 

Earlier this afternoon Tea For Free won the final race of 2022 at Newbury on ground officially described as soft but it looked a lot worse than that. 

The going at Prestbury Park is currently described as good to soft.

A number in the field contested the Paddy Power Gold Cup over the Old Course here in November and probably would have renewed rivalry in the December Gold Cup over the New Course but frost claimed that fixture.

Back in November Midnight River finished third behind winner Ga Law with Il Ridoto fourth, Deyrann De Carjac fifth, Nassalam sixth, Simply The Betts seventh and Stolen Silver unseating Sam Twiston-Davies three from home.

I tipped Deyrann De Carjac each-way at a price that day and had planned to repeat the trick here with five pound claimer Alexander Thorne set to replace five pound claimer Harry Kimber but I fear the rain has scuppered that cunning plan.

Market leader Midnight River was held up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, making headway from three out to claim third, beaten just under four lengths. I wonder if connections may try to race more prominently tomorrow; the handicapper has left Dan Skelton's charge on the same mark: 145.

Following wind surgery over the summer, Il Ridoto ran a noteworthy race for a five-year-old in such a competitive event, eventually finishing fourth. 

Paul Nicholls' charge was disputing second place coming to the last but a bad mistake didn't help the cause and he lost third spot on the run up the hill. 

With the New Course generally considered a greater test of stamina than the Old, and the official race distance recorded as a half furlong further, I just wonder whether the gelding can see out the trip sufficiently well to collect the spoils.

Course and distance winner Stolen Silver looked to have a hard enough race at the head of affairs on seasonal debut last time; in truth the jumping looked suspect long before the jock eventually departed.

On his only run at Cheltenham to date Brave Seasca came to grief at the fourth in the Arkle behind Edwardstone last March (War Lord fourth). 

He returned to action with an impressive win at Aintree four weeks ago on his first try at two and a half miles; the handicapper has reacted by raising Venetia Williams' charge nine pounds. 

I have to say I was a tad disappointed with War Lord in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. 

He was outpaced at halfway and his jumping wasn't foot perfect either but he did rally to finish third behind Greaneteen and Dolos. Connections think this is his ideal trip.

Owned by Harry Redknapp, Shakem Up'Arry missed his intended target - the Paddy Power Gold Cup - but he beat Tile Tapper at Exeter a couple of weeks later. 

He's five pounds higher tomorrow and will appreciate any further rain; the stable is operating at a 23% win strike-rate over the past fortnight.

Happygolucky's third behind L'Homme Presse and Into Overdrive after a long layoff in Newcastle's Rehearsal Chase reads vey well - the former was second in the King George and the latter won the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day. Kim Bailey's charge has been raised one pound for that effort; I'm not certain this step back in trip will help his cause but further rain will.

Coconut Splash is a work in progress and has yet to win over fences but he was sent off favourite for a race at Wetherby nine weeks ago where he finished third behind Into Overdrive.

In a Stable Tour article [RP Weekender 12-16.01.22] handler Evan Williams said:

"I have faith in the horse and feel he could be one who could be dangerous in some decent handicaps off a low weight." 

He appears to have been backed this evening and is quoted a 10/1 shot at the time of writing. 

Last January Fantastic Lady won a Class 4 Novices' Handicap Chase at Warwick off a mark of 120.

Seven weeks ago the mare recorded her third chase win beating Zambella (winner since) just under five lengths at Market Rasen and is now rated 142. 

Henderson is particularly adept in his training of mares - Polly Peachum was a favourite of mine - and Nigel Twiston-Davies won this race last year with the mare Vienna Court; she beat Simply The Betts one and threequarters lengths.  

Simply The Betts raced off 153 that day and goes off 149 tomorrow with Mr David Maxwell able to claim three so from a handicap perspective the ten-year-old looks well treated. The last horse older than nine to come home in front was Too Forward in 2007.

Nassalam met some trouble in running behind Ga Law last time so in the circumstances did well to finish sixth. The handicapper has dropped Gary Moore's charge two pounds and connections have opted for first-time cheekpieces.

Last season Demachine ran in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury after his summer break, finishing fifth behind Cloudy Glen over a trip that clearly stretched his stamina; in my opinion it took him a long time to recover from that effort. 

He appears in better form this term and I'm just wondering whether connections will choose to adopt front-running tactics as they did with Storm Control in the November race. 25/1 with bet365 looks big but I'm not convinced there's much juice in the handicap mark.

Of the others Jacamar and Lostintranslation have been out of form while both Eden De Houx's chase wins have come at Ffos Las and the majority of the Sebastopol's chase experience has been gained in small fields.

I'm going to take a chance with the Gary Moore trained Nassalam, hoping those first-time cheekpieces can bring about improvement. 

Nassalam is the each-way suggestion, currently 16/1 across the board with Sky Bet, William Hill and Betway paying six places.

It just remains for me to wish all readers a very happy new year.


Ian Manson said...

Happy New Year, may your tips go well in 2023.

GeeDee said...

Good to hear from you, Ian, and all the very best for 2023!

tw said...


Going: Good to soft

13,161,WAR LORD(GER)

Happy New Year!

With only 5.4 mm of rain in the last 24-hours, Cheltenham should ride better than Newbury on New Year’s Eve.

Midnight River looks the most likely winner but this is fully reflected in his odds, Happy Golucky could run well but a possible bounce factor and current form of the yard put me off.

So, in the hope that I’m not jinxing your selection, I’ve also homed in on Nassalam.

Nassalam’s two runs this term have come on ground faster than he’d have liked, he was taken off his feet going down the hill in the Paddy Power LTO and then hampered by the fall of Stolen Silver, but still managed to pick himself up and stay on strongly at the finish. Dropped two lbs by the handicapper, back running on easier ground (though he’d probably like it easier still) and fitted with first time cheek pieces I’m hopeful he can get involved in the finish. I took the slightly bigger odds of 18/1 last night but only for 5 places 1/5 odds.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Happy New Year, TW!

Thanks for providing your ratings - hoping Nassalam gives us a decent run for our money.

TW said...

Going Updated - January 1st 2023, 11:02:05 am

Good to Soft, Soft (in places)

TW said...

Going Updated - January 1st 2023, 12:32:04 pm

Soft, Good to Soft (in places)

The going has eased further...much like Midnight River [MR] in the betting market.

MR is the system's idea of the most likely winner but odds of 9/2 last night were too cramped.

7/1 6 places 1/5 odds about MR is now flagged as value by the system I've taken an additional interest in this race at those odds.


TW said...

Nassalam is the each-way suggestion, currently 16/1 across the board with Sky Bet, William Hill and Betway paying six places.

Good start to 2023 for the blog, the challenge now is to keep it up!

A step up in trip might now be on the cards for Nassalam?


GeeDee said...

A noteworthy start to the new year for regular contributor TW who backed winner Midnight River and Nassalam.

Plenty of money during the morning for Shakem Up'Arry who was sent off the 11/2 favourite;
he raced prominently with Stolen Silver (11/1) and Il Ridoto (8/1) for much of the trip.

Eventual winner Midnight River (6/1) came from midfield to make his ground and lead off the home turn. Jockey Harry Skelton appeared to take a chance performing his signature 'aeroplane' celebration after the last before he had crossed the winning line.

Il Ridoto (fourth) and Shakem Up'Arry (fifth) faded up the hill but Stolen Silver rallied to claim second while selection Nassalam (8/1) made ground after the last to claim a respectable third, beaten two and a quarter lengths and one and a quarter lengths.

GeeDee said...


Agree - step up in trip for Nassalam and a step back up in trip for Botox Has in the same ownership.