Racing returns to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and Racing Post tipster Robbie Wilders provides his four best bets.
LIBBERTY HUNTER has been strong in the market in both starts over fences and justified that support with a comprehensive success at Wincanton last time. He should go close in the novice handicap chase.
The lightly-raced eight-year-old will have no issues with the ground and put a nasty fall behind him the time before at Chepstow with a decent jumping performance.
He ran to an impressive Racing Post Rating of 141 for the grade there and can make light of a 9lb rise to a BHA mark of 132.
The fact he represents a trainer in Evan Williams who has saddled a 22/1 winner among his only two runners at Cheltenham this season further enhances confidence.
Gavin Cromwell is another trainer who has fared well at Cheltenham this term. Were it not for Malina Girl’s fall in the staying handicap at the December Gold Cup meeting, Cromwell would probably have saddled a wildly impressive seven winners from 16 runners there in the past few months.
STUMPTOWN goes in the three-miler and should have a massive chance.
This is much weaker than the Coral Gold Cup he contested last time and he has run well at this course before, finishing a close second in the previous running of the Kim Muir.
First-time blinkers can help solve the minor jumping problems he had at Newbury and he only has three veterans and a novice trying a new trip to beat.
I would not underestimate him with Keith Donoghue making the journey over for just the one ride.
Stage Star looks plenty short enough at odds-on for the feature 2m4f handicap chase. While he was an excellent winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup when last seen, this race might just be a stop gap before the Ryanair in March and 166 is an almighty mark to attempt to defy.
I can’t imagine he’ll be fully cooked up for it, while I can’t recall many horses finishing as tired as second favourite Richmond Lake did last time when victorious on desperate ground at Aintree recently. It will take some constitution if he were to follow up off a higher mark.
The two to play represent two trainers who know how to target a big pot; the Sam Thomas-trained AL DANCER and SHAKEM UP'ARRY for Ben Pauling.
Al Dancer ran a corker in the Old Roan when last seen in October despite the omitted fences hindering him and I’d expect him to be revved up for this with a top conditional claiming 7lb off him.
Shakem Up'arry ran a lovely race when sixth in the Coral Gold Cup when 3lb wrong last time, giving the impression he didn’t quite stay, and he will be much more at home over this distance.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.