Exciting chaser Clan Des Obeaux heads 14 entries for the £32,000 Grade 2 BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase (1.25pm) over an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
The five-year-old, one of three entries for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, produced a 10-length demolition of his rivals in a Grade 2 novices’ chase over a similar distance at Newbury on November 25.
Nicholls has also entered Frodon, winner of the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at The International on December 10, and second season novice As De Mee who captured the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree on his latest start.
Nicky Henderson’s three entries are headed by Whisper who posted a polished performance when beating Baron Alco (Gary Moore) in a novices’ chase over the course and distance on December 10. Another course scorer in O O Seven and Different Gravey, who was the beaten favourite behind Whisper at The International, complete the trio.
Gary Moore is weighing up his options for Baron Alco after his two and half length defeat behind Whisper. The five-year-old, who coasted to victory on his previous start at Plumpton, has an 8lb swing in the weights with Whisper this time around.
Moore said today: “Baron Alco has the Cheltenham entry and is also in a novices’ chase at Plumpton the following day.
“It really depends on what is running where. I looks like Whisper is running at Cheltenham and if he is the only big one we have to take on, then we will probably have a go because of the swing in the weights.
“The Plumpton race would mean dropping back to two miles, but the main horse there Buveur D’Air has been declared for Haydock tomorrow. We will just see how things work out before making a decision.”
Entries for the BetBright Dipper Chase also include Charbel (Kim Bailey), who was runner-up to Altior in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park, and Bangor scorer Potters Legend (Lucy Wadham).
Cheltenham offers the perfect way to see in 2017 with a seven-race card on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1.
The richest race of the day is the £60,000 Grade 3 BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase (2.00pm, 23 entries) which was won last year by Cheltenham specialist Village Vic (Philip Hobbs, 11st 11lb) who could attempt a repeat victory this season. Village Vic was last seen out when third in the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at The International on December 10 when Aso (Venetia Williams, 10st 12lb) was second and Quite By Chance (Colin Tizzard, 11st) fourth.
Noel Hayes, director of sportsbook at BetBright, said: “We’ve seen some wonderful racing over the Christmas holidays and the Cheltenham New Year’s day meeting will be just as exciting.
“It will also be the first day of ITV’s coverage of racing and we would like to wish them the best of luck on Sunday. As always there will be a large and knowledgeable crowd at Cheltenham and BetBright is delighted to sponsor the key races for the day.”
Also taking place on New Year’s Day is the £40,000 Grade 2 Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle (3.10pm) over an extended two and a half miles. Last year’s first and second,Camping Ground (Robert Walford) and Lil Rockerfeller (Neil King) could both line up once again along with 2015 Stayers’ Hurdle victor Cole Harden (Warren Greatrex).
Action gets underway on New Year’s Day at 12.15pm with the Listed Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (14 entries) and concludes with the Listed EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club Standard Open NHF Race (3.40pm, 23 entries).