January 30th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Vroum Vroum Mag did us a good turn last week but otherwise things were run of the mill and it’s hard to latch on to anything at great value this Saturday.

Racing – and racing journalism – has changed significantly over the past few years. The Monday to Thursday fare just goes ahead in a quiet, routine way while the next big race, generally on the following Saturday, is the big topic in the Racing Post and elsewhere.

So, by the time they line up, everything has been analysed into the ground. THISTLECRACK in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham is a case in point. As we know, I think the obsession with Cheltenham is miles over the top but I have to accept being in a very small minority and get on with it. This particular race would still have been the week’s talking point wherever it was run and the only thing we still have to consider is whether 10/11 is a fair price.

Well, I’d rather have 10/11 about him here than the 9/4 going the rounds for the World Hurdle because we don’t know which of Willie Mullins’ representatives will line up. Here, Thistlecrack has only one obvious rival to beat, namely Camping Ground. Impressive at the course last time and happy on very soft ground, Camping Ground has to pose a threat, especially as he was giving Thistlecrack 15lb when they finished fourth and fifth in the Imperial Cup at Sandown last year.

Still, that was over two miles and Colin Tizzard’s horse has gone from strength to strength over a distance of ground since then. I’m not often tempted by forecasts but I must say I can envisage the pair of them going clear. I shall back Thistlecrack and have a reversed CSF as a form of saver.

Venetia Williams keeps firing in Saturday winners and I shall not be looking too hard to oppose TENOR NIVERNAIS in the valuable handicap chase. It was unfortunate to come up against the very well-handicapped Village Vic and, although the handicapper knows all about him, Tenor Nivernais can make his course experience count in this.

It is generally a good idea to keep an eye on running and riding arrangements when Nicky Henderson targets valuable handicap hurdles and I should think there is much more to come from CLEAN SHEET, who will have Barry Geraghty’s assistance in the last at 4.10.