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Free Horse Racing Tips For January From Malcolm Heyhoe

By Malcolm Heyhoe

There is no more appropriate place to begin racing in the new year of 2007 than Cheltenham racecourse, the hallowed home of the National Hunt game. The clock is already ticking down to the Festival in March and all eyes will be upon the results of races at Cheltenham's New Year meeting on January 1st, and at the late January fixture on the 27th of the month.

Two races stand out on Cheltenham's New Year card beginning with the Dipper Novices' Chase which was won last year by The Listener who claimed among his victims Star de Mohaison, who then went on to reverse New Year's day form with the winner in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Festival just over ten weeks' later.

Backers should keep an eye on this race with regard to the prospects any SunAlliance contenders. Both Don't Push It and Mr Pointment, first and second over course and distance last time, should again figure prominently.

Cheltenham's feature handicap on the same day is the Unicoin Homes Handicap Chase which was landed twelve months ago by Fondmort, a course specialist and it may well be that the Nicky Henderson team will be keen to keep up their good work in this well-contested handicap with either Crozan or Mariah Rollins.

Sandown on January 6 is the next port of call for the jumping caravan and the feature race on this traditional curtain-raiser is the Tolworth Hurdle, a grade contest for up-and-coming young novice hurdlers. The roll of honour is an illustrious one with past winners such as Best Mate, Monsignor, French Holly and Behrajan all turning out to be stars of the future.

Whatever trainer Paul Nicholls sends to this valuable prize should be worth a second look while fancied horses tend to hold sway too with the market leaders dominating the outcome of this two miles and half a furlong race. Beware also of Irish raiders: there have been a number in recent seasons but all have returned home empty-handed.

The following week on January 13 Warwick comes into its own with the staging of the valuable totesport Classic Handicap Chase, a contest that sorts out the true stayers from the rest. Increased prize-money in recent seasons has seen the level of competition for this race reach fever pitch and thorough stayers with a sound jumping technique are required for the race.

Once again any runners from the Paul Nicholls will bear close scrutiny while Alan King's D'Argent is likely to attempt a follow-up to his recent big Cheltenham handicap success and this course specialist should go close. Emma Lavelle, meanwhile, may also aim her progressive stayer Tana River at this prize and his front-running style should be suited to this fair and galloping course.

The best race of the whole month takes place at Ascot on January 20 when the Victor Chandler Chase returns to its rightful home after a temporary berth at Cheltenham last year because of the controversial re-building programme at Ascot racecourse.

This classy two-mile handicap is always a contest to savour. Paul Nicholls' record in the race is a fine one, having landed the race twice in the past decade courtesy of Call Equiname in 1999 and Young Devereaux in 2003 as well experiencing a couple of close seconds with the inimitable Azertyuiop, who valiantly attempted to concede the crippling burden of 19lb to Isio in 2004 in what turned out to be one of the great race's most memorable finishes.

This time around Nicholls has the first two in the Chandler ante-post market including his great white hope Sporazene, who has not seemed the most natural of chasers but a couple of confidence-boosting success in graduation chases have seen the gelding achieve a more plausible look as a smart two-mile chaser. He may sidestep the race, however, and wit for next month's Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.

Nicholls also relies upon Sainstaire, a winner on his first start for the stable at Newbury last time. Previously in the care of Nicky Henderson, Saintsaire hasn't been the most consistent of chasers and it'll be interesting to see if he shrivels up when confronted with the Chandler challenge. Of the others, the Philip Hobbs-trained Kalca Mome is a likely starter but would need to improve again while Ireland's Mansony may represent Arthur Moore.

Over at Haydock on January 20 there's the Champion Hurdle Trial at the Lancashire course. Al Eile landed the spoils for the Irish twelve months ago and any representatives from across the Irish Sea will be worth close consideration. Look out also for any horses that David Pipe runs in this race. His father Martin has always aimed a good horse at the race and was successful in 2002 with Rodock. Perhaps Acambo, the stable's recent Ladbroke Hurdle winner might be a candidate this time.

January's jumps action comes full circle on the 27th of the month with a full-scale trial fixture for The Festival in March. The feature race has to be the Letheby & Christopher Chase (formerly the Pillar Chase) and this is a classy and influential trial for the Gold Cup. Indeed Looks Like Trouble landed the Pillar before going on to Gold Cup glory in 2000.

Horses that have run with credit in the King George VI and Charlie Hall Chases earlier in the season tend to come on and do well at Cheltenham. This time around David Pipe is aiming Our Vic at the race after the gelding's destruction of a good-class field in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in late October. Ireland's rising star In Compliance is another that has been floated as a possible runner and his presence in the field would add extra spice to the race.

The other big race on the Cheltenham card is the highly competitive and always instructive Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase. Lightly-raced and second season chasers often come out on top here and Paul Webber's No Full and Henry Daly's Billyvodan are a couple of likely types for this valuable prize. If the ground dries out then maybe Taranis can finally come good for the Paul Nicholls stable. He has run well on unsuitably soft ground on his last two starts over course and distance.
About the Author
Malcolm Heyhoe writes weekly horse racing articles for the UK horse racing betting site free bets | horse racing betting

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  Some other articles by Malcolm Heyhoe
Want to know Malcolm Heyhoe's top tips for Cheltenham?
The four-day Cheltenham Festival dominates the March programme, but there's also a busy programme of racing throughout the month including the ever-popular Imperial Cup day at Sandown plus the thrills and spills of the ...

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