Thomas Crapper (right) Image by Eric Belshaw

Thomas Crapper (right)
Image by Eric Belshaw

Racing returns to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, with a fabulous seven-race card to get 2017 off to a flying start at the Home of Jump Racing.

The richest race of the day is the £60,000 BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase (2.00pm), which is staged over two miles and five furlongs. Last year’s renewal went to Cheltenham specialist Village Vic, trained by Philip Hobbs, who has finished second in the G3 BetVictor Gold Cup at The Open and third in the G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at The International this season.

Sixth in the BetVictor Gold Cup on November 12 was Thomas Crapper (Robin Dickin). The nine-year-old, a dual winner over hurdles at Cheltenham in 2013, was beaten 15 lengths in the BetVictor Gold Cup and his trainer is looking forward to seeing his stable star line up again at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day after a breathing operation.

Dickin, who is based near Alcester in Warwickshire, said today: “Thomas Crapper is being aimed at the BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

“He ran a good race when he was sixth in the BetVictor Gold Cup, when we fitted him with a tongue strap. That suggested he had a breathing problem and he has subsequently had his soft palate cauterized.

“He is back in work now and seems a million dollars. He worked hard this morning and we scoped him afterwards – he was 100 per cent clear. We are very happy with him and he will be heading to Cheltenham.

“I just hope there is nothing too high up in the weights as it is an open handicap and that we get a run. He goes on good ground and wouldn’t mind it a bit softer either.”

Other highlights on New Year’s Day include the £32,000 G2 BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase (1.25pm) over two miles and five furlongs and the £40,000 G2 Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle (3.10pm) over two and a half miles.

Action gets underway on New Year’s Day with the £20,000 Listed Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (12.15pm) and runs through to 3.40pm, with the Listed £20,000 EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club Bumper.

Entries for New Year’s Day will be available on Boxing Day, Monday, December 26.

After New Year’s Day, the next fixture at Cheltenham is on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 28, 2017.

Accompanied children, aged under 18, are admitted free of charge at all Cheltenham racedays except during The Festival in March.

Family Fun Zone

There is lots of entertainment off the track to keep the whole family amused on New Year’s Day.

Characters from Ice Age will be making appearances throughout the day in the Family Fun Zone, while there will be live music on the Best Mate Plaza from the Hip Cats as well as local favourites Duke performing in The Centaur after racing.

The Family Fun Zone, staged in partnership with the ROA (Racehorse Owners Association), is situated in a new location in the tented village where children can look forward to not only meeting Sid, Scrat and Diego from Ice Age but also entertainer Showtime Shane, who will be performing on the hour live magic for all the family.

There will be face painting, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs, pet mice and guinea pigs as well as a duck pond to explore and enjoy. Children can also try their hand at milking Mavis, a life-size cow. As well as all of this, there will be balloon artists, indoor inflatables, rosette making, colouring-in zone, plaiting a horse mane zone, dressing up as a jockey zone and a magic mirror.

There will also be a food offering of seasonal sandwiches, dish of the day, beef burgers, southern fried chicken bites, fish goujons, Chicago Town 4 cheese mini pizzas and fries, along with an assortment of drinks and confectionery items.