Saturday 29th January 2022
Author: Jordan Yates (EvRacing_)
A warm welcome to what is the final stop on our Path to Cheltenham series, of which I hope you have all enjoyed following. This, of course means that it’s Trials Day at Prestbury Park which is the concluding meeting at the track before The Festival in March.
I’ll be sharing my opinions throughout the card, a bit of pre-warning for those who do follow one’s opinions here, I do have a pretty torrid record at this Trials Meeting. I am hoping we can put that right here though.
A quick look back and I hope a few of you got on my Longhouse Poet tip for the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday, which did the business at 9/1. There were also 8/1, 9/1 and 15/2 places throughout that day as well as a short priced winner.
As ever though, enjoy the preview!
Kicking off the preview for me will be the 12:45 which is the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle over two miles and a furlongs. This race is as seen as a trial for the Triumph Hurdle in March and I think it can go to Pied Piper at 11/8 who’s an Irish raider for Gordon Elliott. Set to be ridden by Cheltenham stalwart Davy Russell he won his only start to date last time when getting the better of a smart rival trained by Willie Mullins, Vauban, who’s sports the Ricci silks and has Grade 1 entries. I said on Twitter after that particular race that I think we’ve seen two good horses there, and I still believe that to be case. It’s likely that he’ll progress from that effort and could well prove to be a big player here. His main danger looks to be Iceo for Paul Nicholls, who was mightily impressive when winning at Kempton last time.
Next up is the 1:20 which is a Novices Handicap Chase over two miles and four and a half furlongs. This is very competitive and you couldn’t rule any of them out, hence we have a market leader at a general price of 10/3. I’ve come down on a tentative alliance with Java Point at 8/1 for Tom George and Jonny Burke. He was last seen winning by three lengths at Ludlow earlier this month, he’s gone up six pounds for that success which makes life more difficult but he’s only a seven-year-old and could still progress. I’ll chance him following up that Ludlow win with another good run here.
It’s more competitive action at 1:55 with a Grade 3 Handicap Chase which is also contested over two miles and four and a half furlongs. I like the chances of Farinet at 5/1 here for Venetia Williams and Lucy Turner who claims seven pounds. This horse was last seen when bolting up by over five lengths at Sandown last time, and still looks to have a considerable amount of progression in him. He’s only had four starts for Venetia and has won two of them, his one disappointment did come here when he pulled-up in November which isn’t ideal. However, I do think he’s got a considerable chance of rectifying that here and a bold showing would be no surprise.
The 2:30 is one of the feature races of the day, the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase over three miles and one and a half furlongs. It’s hard to see past Chantry House at 10/11 here for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville. He won both the Marsh and the Mildmay novice chases at Cheltenham and Aintree last spring, albeit both were in slightly fortunate circumstances. He was disappointing in the King George last time when pulling-up, but despite only being a few pounds clear here on official ratings I think he’s got a clear class edge on the field.
It’s more graded action at 3:05 as the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle takes centre-stage over three miles. This looks to be more of the same as it looks to be all about Champ at the skinny odds of 1/2. For the same connections of Henderson, de Boinville and McManus it’s hard to see past the 10-year-old in this contest. He reverted back over hurdles last time when taking another Grade 1 over the smaller obstacles, this time at Ascot in the Long Walk. He beat Thyme Hill that day who was seen as the best hurdler in the UK at that time, and as a result Henderson’s charge has been propelled in the betting for the Stayers at the Festival. If he’s anywhere near the same level here he’ll be very tough to beat.
The penultimate race of the day is the 3:40 which is the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and four and a half furlongs. Balco Costal will be the likely favourite here come post-time for Nicky Henderson, he sets a solid standard on the back of his two victories this season over hurdles and is an obviously big player. I’ve taken him on though with Hillcrest who’s currently battling it out at the top of the market at around 13/8, he was as big as 3/1 on Thursday evening. He’s trained by Henry Daly and won over course and distance here on New Years Day, when beating a Henderson hotpot in I Am Maximus. I think he’s a very smart novice and could put that course form to good use here and put in another bold showing.
The concluding race of the meeting comes at 4:15 and it’s a Listed Mares Bumper over two miles and a furlong. I like the chances of Flirtatious Girl here at 5/1 for one of my favourite combinations of Kim Bailey and David Bass. She’s not been seen yet this season, however, her form from last term reads really well as a result of what the horses she came up against have done since. Said form includes wins behind Speech Bubble and Game For Glory, who have both posted impressive efforts over the winter. As a result, I think this Bailey mare could well be a smart one and if ready for this on her first outing of the season, has every chance of making her presence felt.