We have the perfect antidote to the January blues in the form of a weekend of action-packed horse racing, with seven meetings scheduled across the length and breadth of the UK on the 19th and 20th January.
We’ll preview three of the best meetings below, looking at the key contenders and their odds of success.
Ascot, Saturday, 19th January
There’s no doubt that Ascot is one of the busiest and most iconic race courses in the UK, and it’s kicking the New Year off in earnest with the Clarence House Chase raceday on January 19th.
This meeting will feature seven high quality jump races, including three Class I outings and a Grade I event in the form of the Matchbook Clarence House Chase.
This pedigree race will see just three runners compete for a lucrative first prize of £85,425, with the quality of participating trainers ensuring an outstanding and hard-fought contest.
The lack of runners may make this race appealing to punters, although it’s fair to say that Altoir will start as the overwhelming favourite at an oppressive price of 1/7. Trained by Nicky Henderson, this exceptional champion chaser unbeaten over either fences or hurdles since October 2015.
This nine-year old gelding has won 16 consecutive races, including a brilliant run at Kempton in December, underlining why he’s likely to claim an eighth Grade One triumph this weekend.
If you’re looking for an outside bet and a little more value, you may be able to seek some solace in Colin Tizzard’s nine-year old horse Fox Norton. This 7/1 shot has been a Grade One winner over 2 miles, and also performed superbly when winning three consecutive steeplechase outings between April and November last year.
However, he failed to win over three miles and even pulled up in last season’s King George, while he trailed 13 lengths behind Altoir in their only previous meeting to date.
Haydock, Saturday, 19th January
On the same day, there’s another hotly-anticipated seven race steeplechase meeting at Haydock, with four outstanding Class I outings scheduled for the afternoon.
While none of these races are quite as prestigious as the Matchbook Clarence House Chase, the New One Unibet Hurdle is likely to provide an excellent spectacle and an evenly-matched contest.
This Grade 2 race will see five runners compete across one mile and seven furlongs, with a first prize of £42,712 available to the winner.
The early front-runner here is the 7/4 shot Silver Streak, who’s trained by Evan Williams and has claimed four consecutive top-two finishes over the hurdles in recent times.
Although this represents a slight step-up in class, the six-year old landed the Grade 3 Swinton Hurdle at Haydock in May, and is expected to continue his progress here while being rated 24 lbs higher than before.
Make no mistake; he’ll be pushed all the way by the 10/3 shot Mohaayed, with this seven-year old horse having won the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018. He also ended a disappointing run of form with a Grade 3 win at Ascot before Christmas, and Dan Skelton’s runner will surely be there or thereabouts on Saturday.
Exeter – Sunday, 20th January
There’s just two meetings to look forward to on Sunday, with the seven race steeplechase meeting at Exeter arguably the pick of the bunch.
The standout race here is the Starsports.co.uk Novices’ Chase, which is a Class 3 outing with a total prize of just over £12,000.
Nine runners will compete across three miles and 54 yards here, and our initial pick is the Ian Williams-trained King of Realms. With a starting price of 3/1, this seven-year old horse has won two of his last four hurdle outings and emerged victorious from a competitive field of 11 at Ascot in November.
The eight-year gelding Yallteri is likely to compete for the win here too, with a starting price of 9/4 seeming to reaffirm this notion.
Trained superbly by Miss Venetia Williams, he has won four of his seven jump races since his debut back in 2017, including a run of five victories in his last six outings.
Punters with good memories may also remember that Yallteri won impressively in heavy conditions at Exeter last January, so he’s exceptionally well-placed to contend for yet another triumph here.
Click here for more of our betting predictions and tips.