Saturday 26th January 2019
A warm welcome to this weekend’s preview which comes from Cheltenham as its none other than Trials Day at the home of jumps racing where we have a vast array of top drawer National Hunt racing on offer along with a whole host of Festival clues. Last weekend we saw Mister Fisher enhance his Supreme claims for Nicky Henderson at Haydock as well as Global Citizen doing his Champion Hurdle hopes no harm with a fine success in the respective trial. The imperious Altior once again dismantled his opposition this time in the Clarence House at Ascot and it looks increasingly likely that he could face very little opposition once more in the Champion Chase come March. Onto this weeks action we go though, so sit back and enjoy!
12.40 JCB TRIUMPH TRIAL JUVENILE HURDLE
The action kicks off at 12.40 with the Triumph Trial and it’s a race which has seen Nicky Henderson dominate in recent years winning three of the last five renewals with the likes of Peace & Co and most recently Apple’s Shakira. On the back of that it would come as no surprise that Nicky is responsible for the favourite in this year’s renewal sporting the same colours as Peace & Co it’s none other than Adjali. He’s only had one start since moving to Seven Barrows from France and that was very nearly Grade 1 success, as he was narrowly denied by the smart battle hardened Quel Destin at Chepstow. He’s a massive player here and that’s reflected in his price of 13/8. Alan King sends Our Power to take his place in the line up here, a decent performer on the level and has progressed nicely over obstacles for a trainer that specialises in doing well with these sorts. He can be found trading at a general 5/1 and is the mount of Tom Cannon.
Redemption looks to be the order for Dan Skelton’s Protektorat here, a smart second within Listed company in France on his penultimate start, he unfortunately unseated fairly early on here last time and didn’t get the opportunity to showcase his ability. Another horse that had solid form in France is Paul Nicholls Dogon. Hitting the frame on each of his starts over there and is certainly an interesting contender here on stable debut with Bryony Frost on board. Nelson River has won both starts over hurdles since converting to this sphere and looks as though he could well have more to offer for Tony Caroll and the same can be said for Fakir D’Oudairies who represents Joseph O’Brien here. He was well backed the last day when winning well and these are connections you wouldn’t want to be underestimating.
As Juvenile races go, personally I think this is a cracker. Strength in depth in abundance with potential all over the place. As stated in the build up Nicky Henderson has a fine record in the race and seems to target it with his top juveniles therefore I think this ADJALI is going to be very tough to beat on the back of that fine effort within Grade 1 company the last time. If you’re looking for one at slightly larger price or an each way angle I would give another chance to PROTEKTORAT for Dan Skelton. He’s a highly regarded sort who could well prove to be up to this level if getting a clear round this time.
Win: ADJALI (13/8)
Each Way: PROTEKTORAT (11/2)
1.15 TIMEFORM NOVICES HANDICAP CHASE
This is an extremely competitive affair of which a case can be made for the majority of the field. I’ve however taken a fairly tentative alliance with ENOLA GAY of Venetia Williams. A very consistent sort who has ran solid races in defeat so far this term, ideally he want’s a little more cut in the ground as many of this yards do but I do think he could well make his presence felt from a prominent/front running position.
Each Way: ENOLA GAY (5/1)
1.50 SPECTRA CYBER SECURITY SOLUTIONS TROPHY HANDICAP CHASE
Just like the previous affair this is another fiercely competitive handicap which looks somewhat of a minefield for punters. I’ve backed several of these before so it will almost certainly be one of those races where one of said horses comes back to haunt me on the day I haven’t backed it. After attempting to dissect this cruel mistress of a betting field the one I’ve narrowed it down too is THE KINGS WRIT for Kayley Woollacott. He’s a horse that’s thriving at present and comes here with a lot less questions hanging over his head than some of these. He won very impressively last time out and there could well be a lot more to come starting here.
Each Way: THE KINGS WRIT (13/2)
2.25 BETBRIGHT COTSWOLD CHASE
One of the most anticipated races of the day is of course the Cotswold Chase which is a Grade 2 affair that’s contested over a distance just over three miles and a furlong. This year’s renewal see’s the Paul Nicholls trained Frodon head affairs as he reunites his successful partnership with Bryony Frost once more. He’s a horse that’s come on a great deal this term winning a top handicap here last time with an impressive round of jumping from the front. The distance looks to be the question mark today however he does still sit as the market leader at a general 9/4. Battling it out for favouritism with the Nicholls charge is the Welsh National hero Elegant Escape for Colin Tizzard. He won the Chepstow centrepiece in fine fashion last month and this assignment really is to see how good he actually is. He could well be the next Native River and a bold showing here would be no surprise.
Nicky Henderson sends two representatives here both sporting the Munir & Souede colours and these come in the form of Terrefort and Valtor. Starting off with Terrefort he was a dual Grade 1 winning novice last term and looked set for big things before flopping on his reappearance at Sandown earlier on in the season. He hasn’t been seen since then as it clearly wasn’t his true running and Daryl Jacob sides with him today. Valtor was an import from France and bolted up last time at Ascot, quite to the surprise of Nicky as this horse was purchased as a National type it will be interesting to see how he gets on amongst a more classy field. Placed in the 2017 Gold Cup Minella Rocco will be looking to bounce back to that form here for Jonjo O’Neil having no shown anything like that kind of run for a good while. Alyyson Monterg concludes the field as the 40/1 outsider for Richard Hobson.
The question marks over the trip here would put me off Frodon at the prices despite how good he has looked here already this term. Elegant Escape certainly looks the one who has the most scope to be top class however i’m going to take a chance and side with TERREFORT for Nicky. The run last time was too bad to be true and I read some reports that he was actually lame, how true they are one can only guess. It speaks volumes that Jacob has opted for him despite the dominant display of his stablemate last time out and if bouncing back to form he’s certainly a live contender here.
Win: TERREFORT (4/1)
3.00 BALLYMORE CLASSIC NOVICES HURDLE
It seems to be a weekly occurrence that we have one of these graded novice hurdles where Nicky Henderson has a hyped up favourite and that’s once again the case here, with Birchdale heading affairs on the back of his maiden success last time. The Irish Pointer is certainly going to be a warm order here and is the most obvious winner. I’d be willing to take him on though at the prices though with the Fergal O’Brien trained JARVEYS PLATE. He won at Listed level over track and trip the last day and despite having a penalty I think that experience will certainly come into play. The talented Brewin’upastorm looks another chief threat under the champion jockey for Olly Murphy.
WIN: JARVEYS PLATE (11/4)
3.35 CLEEVE HURDLE
The Stayers Division is certainly one of the toughest and most open of the Festival races and this transpires into this year’s renewal of the Cleeve Hurdle. A lot of these have had their moment on the big stage and are either trying recapture that moment or making the most of the time they have left in their respective racing careers. A couple here revert back to hurdles following chasing attempts and these include the likes of Black Op and Lil Rockerfella. Aux Ptits Soins bounced back to the form of his Coral Cup win here back in 2015 the last time and a repeat of that would put him bang in the mix again here and the same can certainly be said for Midnight Shadow. However the one I’m with here is PAISLEY PARK. I’ve become a huge fan of this horse this term and he’s gone from strength to strength culminating in Grade 1 success the last day at Ascot. This assignment presents another challenge but you’ve got to think he’ll be up for it.
Win: PAISLEY PARK (4/1)