Cheltenham star Village Vic out to shine on ITV return
Village Vic: has run with great credit twice at Cheltenham this season
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Cheltenham star Vic out to shine on ITV return By James Burn 6:30PM 31 DEC 2016
CHELTENHAM regular Village Vic, who has done connections proud in two of the track's main handicaps already this term, goes into battle in another big race when he seeks back-to-back victories in the Grade 3 BetBright Handicap Chase.
As a new year begins, so does a new chapter in the coverage of British racing on mainstream television with ITV broadcasting live from Cheltenham as it takes over from Channel 4.
Having his 11th course start, Village Vic regularly peformed with credit around Cheltenham on Channel 4 and so far this season has finished second in the BetVictor Gold Cup in November before finishing third in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup last time.
His win in this race 12 months ago came off a mark of 144, so he will need a career-best effort off 158.
Richard Johnson, who rides Village Vic for Philip Hobbs, said: "He's come out of his last run really well. We all know about him now.
"He loves the track and should put up another bold display. I definitely think this race is less competitive than his last two, so if he can run up to those performances he shouldn't be far away. "
While Village Vic is a straightforward as they come, Nicky Henderson has been having a trickier time of things with Vaniteux.
Having raced over 2m1f and 2m½f this season, Vaniteux steps up to 2m4½f for this contest and Henderson is hoping things drop right.
He said: "He's quite frustrating in the fact that it's difficult to work out his best trip so we're going right back up in trip again to two miles five and I hope it's the right decision.
"It's a real quandary with him as every jockey who rides him comes back in and says he wants further, so we step him up, and then they say he needs dropping down, so we're in no man's land really!"
He added: "He wants burying away, putting to sleep and ridden like he's the best horse in the race, I think. He has lots of ability and will bag a decent prize before long, mark my words."
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