Cheltenham welcomes in 2015 with terrific New Year’s Day fixture

Cheltenham is set to welcome in 2015 with a cracking seven-race card on New Year’s Day, Thursday, January 1.

A fascinating contest is in prospect for the £32,000 Grade Two BetBright Novices’ Chase (1.20pm) over two miles and five furlongs. The 12 excellent entries include Champagne West (Philip Hobbs), who has won twice over fences at Cheltenham this season, scoring at both The Open and The International. Ptit Zig (Paul Nicholls) is unbeaten in three starts over fences including a Grade Two contest at Ascot on his latest start, while Ned Stark (Alan King) is two out of two over fences.

Melodic Rendezvous (Jeremy Scott) boasted a rating as high as 163 and was a triple Grade Three winner over hurdles.

After finishing third over hurdles on his seasonal debut at Haydock Park on November 22 behind The New One, the eight-year-old made a winning chasing debut at Bangor on December 17, when scoring by half a length from Boondooma.

Melodic Rendezvous was due to run at Leicester yesterday, December 28, but that meeting was abandoned and trainer Jeremy Scott is now considering options for his stable star.

Scott, based at Brompton Regis in Somerset, said today: “We are just reviewing where we will go next with Melodic Rendezvous. He is in at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and will also be given an entry at Plumpton (January 4). We ideally wanted to go to Leicester yesterday with him as I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him.

“I wouldn’t rule out going to Cheltenham, but I would prefer an easier option if that is possible and that is why I swerved going to Kempton with him.

“He is ready to rock and roll and we will look at the ground and what Plumpton is looking like before coming to a decision. He needs to get some experience over fences as he is going chasing relatively late in life.

“He was just a bit slow and cautious on his first start over fences but I was happy enough with him and the horse he beat has gone on and won since.”

The richest race on New Year’s Day at the Home of Jump Racing is the £50,000 Grade Three BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase (1.55pm) over two miles and five furlongs. The 15 entries include Caid Du Berlais (Paul Nicholls), who has already taken a major prize at Cheltenham this season when successful in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at The Open. The champion trainer could also be represented by top-weight Rolling Aces and Fago.

The 2012 Stan James Champion Hurdle victor Rock On Ruby (Harry Fry) features among 18 entries for the £25,000 Dorman Engineering Hurdle (3.05pm) over an extended two and a half miles. The nine-year-old was successful last time out at Cheltenham, recording a comfortable two and a quarter length success in the Grade Two Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle at The International on December 13.

Other interesting contenders include Cole Harden (Warren Greatrex), a Grade Two winner at Wetherby in November, Beat That (Nicky Henderson), who has not been seen out since winning a Grade One novices’ hurdle at Punchestown in April and Garde Le Victoire (Philip Hobbs), who landed the Grade Three Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 16.

New Year’s Day gets underway at 12.10pm with the £10,000 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle. The 21 entries for the extended two and a half mile contest include Zeroeshadesofgrey (Neil King) who has won all three of his starts over hurdles, most recently scoring by a facile 33 lengths at Doncaster on December 13.

The £20,000 BetBright On Mobile Handicap Chase (12.45pm, 25 entries) over an extended three and a quarter miles, the three-mile £20,000 BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle (2.30pm, 22 entries) and the concluding £20,000 Listed EBF Cheltenham Pony Club Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (3.40pm, 23 entries) over an extended mile and the three-quarters, complete the card.

Going and Weather – Frost Covers In Place

The Going remains Good to Soft.

Simon Claisse, Regional Head of Racing, South West & Clerk of the Course, Cheltenham, said today: “The round course was covered with frost covers yesterday and remains raceable under them. The sun is out but it is very cold here today.

“The next couple of mornings are also forecast to be very cold, with temperatures getting down to minus five degrees Celsius.

“But it is forecast to be less cold on Thursday, when we race, with temperatures rising to plus eight degrees Celsius.

“There are no concerns about racing on Thursday, January 1. We have experienced much colder weather with the frost covers down and still raced.

“The going remains Good to Soft and dry weather is forecast until after racing on Thursday.

“I am pleased with the entries for New Year’s Day and looking forward to competitive racing and a big crowd.”

Further information about New Year’s Day

Accompanied children aged under 18 receive FREE entry at every Cheltenham raceday except during The Festival.

There will be lots of activities for children on New Year’s Day. Characters from the popular Moshi Monsters will be appearing – Poppet and Katsuma have taken a short break from their latest mission on the streets of Monstro City to visit Cheltenham Racecourse and will be appearing at intervals during the afternoon.

Additional family fun is provided in the Brightwells Sales Arena – Meerkats, Mouse Farm and lots of furry friends to meet (including a Skunk), face painting, inflatable games and magician.

These activities are in the Club/Tattersalls enclosures and cannot be accessed with a Best Mate enclosure ticket.

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