There is Grade 3 action at Tramore on New Year’s Day and Phill Anderson from the Racing Post has two selections on the card.
The retired Al Boum Photo has won the last four renewals of the Savills New Year’s Day Chase but I’m not sure his old stablemate Stattler is a natural successor and he looks opposable at even money at time of writing.
Stattler showed us last season that he has a bright future over staying trips. While he won the 3m6f Grade 2 at Cheltenham with any amount in hand on his final start of last term, he hasn’t really given the impression that this sort of trip (2m6f) on a tight turning track will be up his street.
It’s not easy to oppose Willie Mullins given what the Irish Champion Trainer has achieved this week but I suspect this runner is too short in the betting.
The 2021 Gold Cup winner, Minella Indo, looks like the one to take him on with. He didn’t manage to get his head in front last season but he did finish runner-up in both the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
That level of form sets him apart from any of his four opponents and he’s even in receipt of weight from his two main market rivals, Stattler and El Barra.
He hasn’t been over this sort of trip for a few seasons but that’s not a major concern given the pace he’s shown in the last two renewals of the Gold Cup. While this is a stepping stone back to Grade 1 level, he might not need to be 100% to win in this grade. His class can see him through.
Earlier on the card, the Irish Champion Trainer has a fascinating new recruit in the opener.
Quais De Paris travelled stylishly when making his debut at Compiegne last year, before looking a shade green in the closing stages and finishing third. He was subsequently bought for €180,000 at the Arqana Sales.
The form of that newcomers’ hurdle couldn’t have worked out much better, with the winner landing five of his six subsequent starts including a couple at Grade 3 level. Furthermore, the runner-up from that race and the two that finished directly behind the selection have all shown themselves to be useful performers, gaining wins since.
It’s worth noting that the yard have sent some smart sorts to this race in recent years, winning the last three renewals with the likes of Saint Roi back in 2020 and another Grade 1 performer, El Fabiolo last year.
There’s a suspicion that Quais De Paris might not necessarily need to progress on his return here and given that most horses do improve for a switch to Mullins, the selection could be a class apart from these.