Cheltenham Trials Day 2020 Preview

Warthog (JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

The Cheltenham Trials Day sets the scene for the Cheltenham Festival in March and the card is full of interesting clues to the big races in March.

We have covered some of the races in our latest podcast too-


Gerolamo Cardano (JTW Equine Images)

12:40 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2)

Rowland Ward ran seven times, winning once, for Ralph Beckett. He was making headway when falling on hurdles debut. Next time, he quickened impressively up the run-in to win at Kempton on the 27th December. That looked like a decent contest. Nicky Henderson won this with Apples Shakira in 2015 and his representative MONTE CRISTO is making her debut for the yard after four runs in France. He won on the last of those outings in a handicap Hurdle and is out of a three times winning mare. Harry Cobden is an interesting booking on Galahad Quest for Nick Williams. On debut, he came fourth to subsequent grade one winner Allmankind and then he was only beaten a neck by an older rival at Taunton. Gerolamo Cardano came fourth in a NH Flat Race at Aintree. At the start of the month, he won by eleven lengths and any race would aid his cause. Night Edition was fourth on hurdles bow behind a subsequent smart winner so the form is good. Gold Standard ran seven times on the flat and was well-beaten on all of those. His dam is a five time winner but this is a tough race to start over hurdles in.

Jarveys Plate (JTW Equine Images)

13:15 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase

Last year’s winner went on to win a big handicap at Aintree. My selection is CHAMPAGNE COURT for Jeremy Scott. This gelding has won his last two, at Sandown and Newbury. On the latter occasion, this horse beat Mercy Mercy Me by over three lengths, carrying 13lbs more. That horse followed it up with an easy win at Sandown three weeks ago. 9lbs splits them and I think my selection can confirm the form. Imperial Aura is well thought of and unexposed too. He was 1/25 for Chase debut when he won and just ran into Pym last time. Others to mention are Court Master, who’s looking for a three timer, Simply The Betts, who’s consistent, and Cloudy Glen, who had a confidence booster last time. Jarveys Plate has top weight and that makes it a bit tough for him.

Lalor (JTW Equine Images)

13:50 Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

I’m going to begin with Cepage. This horse is in my 20 To Watch and he kicked off the season coming second to Riders Onthe Storm. Next he came fourth to Warthog, Spiritofthegames And Robin Des Foret in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Last time, he was sixth in a grade three behind Lalor who was in third. He may still be too high in the handicap. Warthog in on a career high mark and achieved his second win in December. He ran prominently and nearly got headed by Spiritofthegames but he ran on bravely. He’s gone up 4lbs. Spiritofthegames put in a really improved run to be second to Warthog as before that he’d pulled up and been well-beaten in similar races. He’s not won since a novice chase but his mark may be a bit high. LALOR won a grade one hurdle in 2018 and then a grade two novice chase. He didn’t won after that in his novice campaign and he was fourth in the Haldon Gold Cup on reappearance this term. He put in a most improved run to be beaten a head into third last time out and he showed a lot more sparkle.

Highway One O One hasn’t won since 2018 and he came second on seasonal debut. He unseated in the Bet Victor and was fourth at Newbury. Last time, he wasn’t beaten far and only just lost second. Count Meribel was sixth in the Bet Victor after running a blinder in a listed to not be beaten far by Lostintranslation. He’s not been seen for 70 days and is the shortest price for the Stable Plate at 25/1. My Way was beaten ten lengths by the smart Espoir De Guye at Ascot last time out but he’s never won. Cool Mix won a novice chase round Newcastle but was well-beaten on all his starts subsequently, except when he came third in the ‘Auld Reekie’ at Musselburgh. Militarian ran here on New Years Day, coming fourth, and, before that, he was eighth behind Espoir De Guye and My Way. Garde Le Victoire came sixth and he’d followed in some incredibly smart horses in his day.

Slate House (JTW Equine Images)

14:25 Paddy Power Cotswold Chase

This won’t be the strongest of the Gold Cup trials in England, that title possibly sits with the Denman Chase. I’m going to begin with Santini, who’s the shortest for the Gold Cup at 9/1. He looks too short for me. He’s a very consistent sort and came second in the RSA but Now McGinty got very close to him on seasonal reappearance. He may well won today but I’m not convinced as of yet. SLATE HOUSE is an interesting runner in this race as he is still a novice. On seasonal debut, he won a novice chase round here and then should’ve been four from four this term but he fell in the Bet Victor Gold Cup when cruising. They used Huntingdon as a confidence boost before winning a grade on at Kempton last time. He’s in excellent form with himself and I don’t think we know how good he could be.

We know how good Bristol De Mai is by now. Last season, he won the Betfair Chase and fell in the King George VI Chase. He ran very well to be third in last year’s Gold Cup and then came fourth at Aintree. When last seen, he was second in this season’s Betfair Chase and he goes well fresh. His form at this course is questionable but this is his best chance of winning round here. He’s the one with the assured class. He’s likely to be taken on for the lead by Top Ville Ben. The bold jumping gelding is one of Phillip Kirby’s stable stars and is actually the second highest rated. He idled in front at Newcastle and got beaten but he won incredibly easily in the Rowland Meyrick.

De Rasher Counter is my each way selection. He’s won five of his sixteen outings, including the Ladbrokes Trophy. He stayed very well over three miles one in that race and he hasn’t scaled the heights of the other horses as of yet but the Ladbrokes Trophy is a good stepping stone to bigger things. Mister Whitaker won the Close Brothers in 2018 and a listed chase on his first start of the next season. He lost his way for the next three starts but won in April in a grade two. He ran in a grade three last time out and has a bit to find with these.

Harry Senior (JTW Equine Images)

15:00 Ballymore Novices Hurdle (Grade 2)

There are three five year olds in this race – Protektorat, Time Flies By and French Kiss. Time Flies By has ran three times. He won a NH Flat Race here in October. Next time, he came second to a subsequent listed winner and then made his hurdles bow in a strong grade two. He blundered at two out and stayed on on one pace after that. He can only build on this. Protektorat was part of the controversial race on New Years Day and he’s penalised for that. In the end of a long enquiry process, he was given the race despite being demoted before that. Previous to this, he had been second to a subsequent winner. This will show whether he deserved to win that. HOUSE ISLAND also has a penalty but is rated 2lbs superior. He ran in the Champion Flat Race at Punchestown before coming second on hurdles debut. He won well at Ludlow and then out ran his odds in a grade two to only be beaten less than a length. French Kiss has ran eight times and his best finish was coming third on hurdles debut, last time out, nearly 40 lengths behind the winner. 100/1 shows his chances.

At the other end of the market is King Roland. Harry Fry’s gelding won a bumper by 22 lengths last December and again in February. On hurdles debut, he was second to Son Of Camas. On New Years Day, he won a maiden hurdle by nineteen lengths. Upped in grade. Harry Senior proved himself to be a quirky individual after trying to jump through a rail and injuring himself, two weeks ago, at Warwick. He seems to be a well-regarded horse but it took him a while to win. On his penultimate start, he followed in the smart Edwardstone and won by five lengths next time out. He goes for the powerful combination of Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power. Highest rated is Rocket Lad. He’s ran seven times and won for the first time in May. He won twice over the summer and finished last in a listed race last time out. He finished lame that day and he’s better than that run. Ruthless Article comes here off a 127 day absence. He completed a double in August and September by a combined 16 lengths. He’s not completely out of it on official ratings.

15:35 Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2)

The choice is obvious here. I’m going for PAISLEY PARK. He’s won his last six outings, including the Stayers Hurdle and multiple other graded races. He’s everything you’d want in a racehorse – he jumps, travels and puts the race to bed very easily. He’s as short as 5/4 for the Stayers in March. Interestingly, he came thirteenth to Kilbricken Storm in the 2018 Albert Bartlett. Since, this horse has won a novice chase but didn’t take to fences. He was eleventh in the Stayers and then thirteenth to If The Cap Fits. He put in an improved run last time out and a place isn’t off the table. If The Cap Fits has only been out of the top three once in twelve starts (when fourth to Lalor in a grade one). Last season, he won the Aintree Stayers Hurdle, with William Henry fourth, and, on seasonal reappearance, he battled well to win the Coral Hurdle. He’s Paisley Park’s biggest threat.

William Henry won the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and then was fourth to If The Cap Fits. We didn’t see him again until New Years Day when he was beaten by Summerville Boy in the Relkeel Hurdle. Summerville Boy won the Supreme a few years ago and got off the mark over fences in a beginners chase, beating First Flow, at Uttoxeter. He fell in a grade one next time then returned to hurdles with a victory in the Relkeel Hurdle. Stamina is the issue. L’Ami Serge is William Henry’s stablemate and he won the Aintree Hurdle, Tolworth and Intermediate Hurdle in his career before a 580 day break due to injury. He ran last time in the Long Walk Hurdle. It didn’t help him that he was keen and he messed about in front a bit so he ended up second. He’ll have got over the buzz of being back on a racecourse.

Tobefair and Lisnagar Oscar are handicappers stepping up in grade. The latter took a nasty fall at Warwick a fortnight ago but he’s got some really good form to his name. Tobefair completed a double here in April and October and carried a big weight to third place in a listed race, giving over a stone to the first two. He’s earned his place in the line-up.

16:10 Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle

SOFIA’S ROCK was a multiple winner on the flat for Mark Johnston and even ran in one of the premier handicaps at Royal Ascot. He’s won twice and placed three times for Dan Skelton. His yard had a treble at Huntingdon on Friday. We Run The Night is unbeaten in France so could be anything. Lust For Glory and Northern Beau have chances.

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