Horse Racing Tips | 1st January 2017

RACING expert Graeme Johnston takes a look at the New Years Day card from Cheltenham.

13:25 Cheltenham

The Dipper Chase is the first graded chase of the year and it’s a great starting point. A field of five line up with four serious contenders but I have a feeling the favourite here could be high class.

Clan Des Obeaux turns five officially today and is one of the most exciting chasing prospects around. He’s young for a chaser but that means he gets weight allowances and he’s nicely in here.

I backed him on his debut over fences and he seemed to need the run and the experience but on his second start he looked like a natural over jumps.

He looked a real galloper and produced some fine leaps at Newbury. He never came off the bridle that day against some decent sorts and if he produces anything like that here then he wins and wins well. Whisper won well last time out too but Clan Des Obeaux looks a much more natural jumper and is definitely the one to beat today.

14:00 Cheltenham

A two and a half mile chase that has attracted some well established handicappers and this looks a tricky puzzle to solve. Last year’s winner Village Vic returns and looks sure to make it a truly run race but I fancy one of his old rivals to reverse form from this race last season.

Top Gamble had a great end to last season and on his return was slightly disappointing behind Fox Norton where he was conceding weight all round. He will come on a lot for his reappearance and will handle the better ground than normal at this time of year.

He’s won half of his chase starts and despite his jumping letting him down on a couple of occasions he’s generally a solid jumper. His record at Cheltenham isn’t inspiring however at the prices I think he represents real value in this race.

15:10 Cheltenham

The Relkeel Hurdle has been won by some top staying hurdlers down the years such as Oscar Whiskey, Rock on Ruby and Black Jack Ketchum and though none of these are likely to reach these heights it’s a fascinating race ahead.

Camping Ground won this last year and Lil Rockerfeller has been a model of consistency so far but I’m taking both on. L’Ami Serge was a top class novice hurdler and a high class novice chaser a and makes his seasonal debut over the smaller obstacles here. If he’s fully wound up for this he’ll be hard to beat.

He has a fantastic record when fresh and in my opinion if he’d stuck to hurdles Id expect him to be better than these. Apart from Lil Rockerfeller he’s taking on horses with something to prove and at the prices I’m backing the Nicky Henderson inmate here.

Graeme Johnston’s Best Bets

13:25 Cheltenham – Clan Des Obeaux

14:00 Cheltenham – Top Gamble

15:10 Cheltenham – L’Ami Serge