Tuesday of Cheltenham Week is the real New Year’s Day for us horsey fans! As ever, rain is the bugbear, and has the potential to alter calculations. At the moment the going is described as soft (heavy in places). Rain is forecast today, but fine weather for tomorrow and Wednesday. There is heavy rain forecast for Thursday, with showers and breezy conditions for Friday. Thursday could turn out particularly tricky if the rain does arrive. Selections ideally need to have shown form on softer ground. My thoughts, for what they are worth, are as follows. Tuesday Getabird (winning form on heavy ground) has the best form in the Supreme Novices Hurdle which opens the meeting. His price is currently too short but there may well be 9/4 or 5/2 available tomorrow morning, which would be a bet. Footpad (wins on soft/heavy) is my pick in the Arkle, as I expect him to be able to track the likely strong pace set by Saint Calvados and pounce in the home straight. More speculative is Gold Present in the Ultima Handicap Chase (7/1 at the moment). He has won on good to soft – so slight question mark there, but he’s an up and coming chaser who may progress to better class chases in open company eventually. I like this horse (along with Bellshill) for the Grand National, so his 20/1 price for Aintree may shorten if he wins or runs well here. Buveur D’Air (wins on soft and heavy) will win the Champion Hurdle – simple as. But 4/7 is no use to anyone. Ditto Apple’s Jade in the Mares’ Hurdle – she’s 8/13 best at present. Jury Duty (wins on soft/heavy) should go well in the National Hunt Chase at 9/2 or 5/1. He has one of the best of the amateurs aboard in Jamie Codd. The last race (Close Brothers handicap Chase) is really too competitive to get involved in, although Rather Be and Mister Whittaker may go well. Wednesday Samcro and Altior should win their respective races but are too short in the betting to merit backing. Of more interest are Presenting Percy (RSA Chase) and Cause Of Causes (Cross Country Chase). The latter would not want it too soft. Acey Milan is very interesting in the concluding Champion Bumper. He receives weight, being a four year old and has won on soft and heavy – last time out at Newbury by 11 lengths. 8/1 is very interesting for this one. The Coral Cup and the Fred Winter Hurdle are just too competitive to wrestle with. Watching races! Thursday Here’s where we have to take it cautiously! Un DeSceaux will relish heavy conditionsin the Ryanair Chase, but it seems stablemate Douvan may turn up here (winner on heavy) and he is basically a better horse. 11/4 non runner no bet is one of my bets of the meeting, but get on this morning before the Champion Chase declarations are made (if Douvan is absent it will more or less confirm that he is running in Thursday’s Ryanair). We get our money back if he doesn’t run. Sam Spinner has winning form on heavy and has done nothing but improve this season. 9/2 is a very fair price and he would be shorter if he was at a more fashionable stable. Laurina should win the Mares’ Novice Hurdle but is too short to support. The other races are too complex to work out. Friday In the Gold Cup, Might Bite is much the best horse. He might prefer better ground, but he won the King George on soft and his sire Scorpion won the St Leger on heavy so I’m prepared to take a chance here. 3/1 (NRNB) is about the best price at the moment, but he might just drift before the off due to the conditions. Pacher Du Polder and On The Fringe are both of interest in the Foxhunters’ but the remaining races are difficult to assess with any certainty this far ahead. Best of luck to those getting involved, and especially to those who are going on one or more days – thorough stayers required!