ITV Racing tips – Huge each-way treble covering big handicaps at Cheltenham and Musselburgh on New Year’s Day

Jon Vine takes a look through all of Saturday’s televised races and combines three of his top handicap tips into this each-way treble on Wednesday 1st January.

While most will spend New Years Day nursing a hangover and gorging themselves on left-over festive fodder, the horse racing world gears up for another hectic afternoon of racing. Cheltenham will be the main focus of attention, with two Grade Two featuring on their stellar card, but there’s also televised action coming to ITV viewers live from Musselburgh tomorrow.

I’ve taken a look at three of the big handicap on New Years Day and rolled my selections into this each-way treble!

Saturday’s Treble

Kalashnikov’s presence in Wednesday’s field leaves CEPAGE (NAP) carrying just 11-6 into battle. Venetia Williams’ chaser ran just once last season and this will be his third outing in the space of seven weeks, which must mean that Cepage is at the peak of both form and fitness and he could prove himself to be the best handicapper horse in this race.

11 months after running Frodon mightily close in the 2018 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, Cepage powered down the straight at Aintree to give Riders Onthe Storm a real scare on his reappearance – a performance which was made to look even better after the winner bolted up at Ascot over Christmas. 11-12 then took its toll on his second crack at the Caspian Caviar, where the top-weight simply couldn’t find the finishing pace to reel in Warthog after another clean round of jumping.

Cepage has proven he’s capable of winning here at Cheltenham and his current handicap mark of 155 is certainly not beyond him. He could be my best bet of the day.

Cepage (rear) following Frodon home here at Cheltenham last season.

SNOOKERED (NB) has improved beyond belief this season and will enter the fray at Musselburgh shouldering a career-high mark of 142. Despite that, I still think Brian Ellison’s charge has some improvement left in the tank and Billy Garritty’s claimer could make a huge difference.

Having returned to National Hunt racing rated just 109 in September, four excellent victories on the bounce have helped Snookered shoot up the handicap by a staggering 33 pounds. Garritty was in the saddle as Ellison dropped his charge back to two miles at Wetherby last time out, where Snookered made all in impressive fashion before holding on to win by almost four lengths.

Front-running tactics often bear-fruit around the tight, right-handed track here at Musselburgh and good-to-soft ground should be ideal for this dependable jumper. I’m hoping his winning run will stretch into a fifth race on Wednesday!

Goodbye Dancer wins at Cheltenham in December.

Nicky Henderson’s decision to chuck former King George winner, Might Bite into this handicap hurdle with a rating of 160 leaves several capable contenders looking exceedingly well-handicapped. The one I want to side with here is GOODBYE DANCER (TRB) who ran out a comfortable winner over course-and-distance here in December and Fergal O’Brien’s recruit sneaks into this right at the bottom of the weights.

Having made the switch from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard, Goodbye Dancer looked resurgent on his first start for new connections, surviving a mistake at the last to hold off the rallying Ask Ben and Champers On Ice to claim his first victory since March 2017. The handicapper has thrown Goodbye Dancer back up the handicap by ten pounds following that success, but O’Brien’s charge remains some three-pounds short of the career-high mark he reached after that Sandown success and course form is always vital at Cheltenham.