Though Cheltenham had to be abandoned due to waterlogging, the ITV cameras are set to focus in on Musselburgh and Exeter, while over in Ireland Al Boum Photo begins his journey towards a third Gold Cup when making his seasonal reappearance at Tramore.

The action comprises mainly of ultra-competitive handicaps which Nick Luck has tried to solve.


SEBASTOPOL, available at 9/2, looks well worth a try at the trip in Musselburgh’s TV opener on New Year’s Day (1.20). He needed all of the strongly run Scottish County Hurdle here last February to master the talented Ashington and is not badly treated on that form. His comeback behind Floressa at Newbury should have put him spot on for this and he should be much more at home in this company.

ROSIE AND MILLIE might be nice each way play at 15/2 against the front of the market in the 2-miler (1.55). She has definitely taken a little step forward since the application of a tongue-tie but hasn’t quite seen her races out as well as others at stiff tracks on soft ground. This less demanding test might suit her ideally, and she could be quite hard to peg back round here. Proschema would be a big threat to all if he put his best foot forward.

ROMAIN DE SENAM comes with risks, but he is so well handicapped on his old form that he may now be worth chancing (3.05) at 6/1, particularly as his most recent completed start offered a fair bit more encouragement. He was thought to be worth a crack at a big prize at Cheltenham last time but being brought down early may have been a blessing in disguise, as this is a much more suitable target. The yard continues to churn out the winners.


LADY KK is 7/1 and can take advantage of a low mark in the mares’ handicap at Exeter (1.40). A surprise second to the subsequent winner Emmpressive Lady here two starts ago, she looks thrown in on that form, but might have fooled the handicapper with a less good effort at Fakenham next time. She should be better suited back here on this testing track and ridden with a bit more patience.

LE MILOS could go well on his chasing debut (2.15) at 10/1. This is a very trappy race, but the selection has had a breathing operation since he was last seen, an angel which has worked well with a couple of big-priced horses from this stable this season. He looks handily treated on the best of his hurdles form and catching him first time off a break may be best.

HOLD THAT TAUGHT is starting to get the hang of it and is a confident shout to go well in the handicap chase (2.50) at 4/1. Much less exposed than most, this well-bred gelding ran a fine race behind Demachine at Ascot, looking like a thorough stayer. This more exacting test at the trip will suit and he could yet make up into a pretty decent marathon chaser for a stable that has been among the winners.


BRAHMA BULL is the interesting runner if you don’t fancy taking the 2/7 about Al Boum Photo in the Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore (2.37). In all honesty, it’s difficult to see the dual Gold Cup hero beaten, but Brahma Bull is a pacey enough horse and won’t mind cutting back in trip here. With a run under his belt, this relatively unexposed gelding should push forward hard from the outset and, at odds of 7/1, could just make Al Boum Photo sweat a little bit.

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