Alongside Quest and Hope in Cheltenham
2022 starts off with a great card in Cheltenham as well as some good action in Musselburgh as well. Here are Nick Luck’s thoughts and fantasies …
FANTASTIKAS is a decent round trip bet at 11/1 in a surprisingly engaging Dipper Novices Chase that opens ITV’s New Year’s offer (1:25 p.m.). He’s one of the top rated here, but has six above him in betting, despite being in good shape and extremely consistent. He is a good jumper with good cruising speed and should be very comfortable slowing down while traveling. The three-runner race in which he finished second was a fair race on form and against the clock, and he also gets some weight from the favorite here.
QUEST FOR GALAHAD (15/2) and TEILLEE HOPE (18/1) will both receive some of my money in the Functional Handicap (2:00 PM). For someone so inexperienced, the former had a superb race in the Paddy Power in November, doing a good end job. The New Course and softer ground will help it enormously. Hope De Teillee has a slightly more uneven profile, but he has run lightly for a horse his age, has had a career out of rhythm at Newbury and will slip here under Danny Mullins for a slice of the late action.
WHAT’S NEW has been in this column a few times, but it’s time he paid us back to 16/1 (2:35 p.m.). He just ran his two best races on this course with clipped ground, got professionally ridden again and surely needs this trip nowadays. Plus he’s back on the hurdles after making the obstacles a bit tricky, despite a perfectly decent run at Fontwell the last time we saw him. The yard is in good shape.
BLIND CTÉ is another high price to 14/1 in the Relkeel Hurdle (3:10 p.m.). There are more talented and / or progressive horses here, but this one is smart in his time, and can be forgiven for his run in the Long Walk last time around – that tough test at Ascot is just a bit too much for him. endurance- wise. Previously at Newbury he had the best of those ridden with too much pace, and is capable of a big hit at this level. More importantly, Stormy Ireland should give him a good gallop to sit right behind, and he will continue to find plenty of them on the right track where he has shown good form.
VOICE OF DREAM hides in plain sight during the first televised race in Musselburgh (13:40) at 14/1. Its recent form figures are rubbish, but it just hasn’t been defined as a realistic task in ages. Luckily, that means his grade has dropped a few pounds, to the point that it’s a bit lower than when he got a great second on this card last year and an even better second here the following month ( high price both times).
CHRISTOPHE BOIS gets the vote at 6/1 in the race he won last year (2:10 p.m.). Massively better off at the weights of one of their last two encounters with Tommy’s admirable Oscar, he’s also a pound lighter than when he ran away in the 2021 renewal. There’s plenty of pace for him. to aim here too, which will be appropriate.
NIETZSCHE was given a real chance by the handicapper to win another race in the Auld Reekie (2:50 p.m.) at 11/2. He won a fairly competitive little race (small field) at the Scottish Ayr National Meeting and showed a clear return to form at Taunton last time around, probably finding 2 1/4 miles a bit steep for him these days. -this. It will be more in his street.