Where to Watch Racing this Weekend

January 25, 2018

- Grant Whittington

While many sports are seasonal and struggle to engage fans throughout the year, there are others that offer entertainment across every 12-month period.

Take horse racing, for example, which takes place all-year-round in the form of multiple jump and flat meetings. We’re currently in the midst of the jump racing season, and this weekend will see a number of thrilling hurdle and steeplechase meetings throughout the UK.

In this post, we’ll look at the best races this weekend and appraise the most likely runners and risers in each.

Huntingdon,  Friday 26th January

 We start at Huntingdon, which will play host to seven jump races of the highest quality on Friday, 26th January.

The standout race here is the epic Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, which is a Class II event that will run across three miles and one furlong. A mammoth 23 runners will compete here, with the lucky winner set to walk away with a cheque for £12,512.

While this is likely to be a close race, one of the early favourites is the Henry Daly trained Crucial Role. This six-year old gelding has been building some genuine momentum over the course of the last three months, placing in each of his last five hurdle outings since May. He was also victorious last time out at Ludlow on the 18th January, where he vanquished a field of 11 in soft conditions.

Another key contender is the excellent Minella Awards, the seven-year old runner trained by Harry Fry. While the gelding pulled-up short during his last outing at Haydock in November, he won impressively at Punchestown over a similar distance last April. This superb run came in a competitive field of 25, so he should be well placed to mount a challenge here.

If you’re looking for a slight outsider, look no further than Calett Mad. This six-year old gelding is known to perform better over longer distances, which consecutive victories at Perth and Cheltenham in October underline his credentials over the hurdles. Still, he finished fifth in a field of six at Cheltenham last time out, so may offer good value here.

Cheltenham, Saturday 27th January

 As one of the UK’s most iconic racecourses, it stands to reason that Cheltenham should host some of the best events. Take this weekend’s Festival Trials Day, for example, which will play host to seven superb jump races of Grade I and Grade II quality.

Selecting the standout race here is easier said than done, but the Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase certainly offers the largest prize fund to successful horses (the winner will pocket an impressive £56,950). A total of 10 runners will compete in this Grade II, Class I race, over an epic course of three miles and one furlong.

With such a high quality field, it’s hard to determine an obvious favourite for this race. With that being said, Harry Fry’s eight-year old gelding ‘American’ will surely start as one of the main contenders, despite pulling up during his last outing at Newbury in December.

Prior to this, he recorded three consecutive steeplechase victories at Exeter, Warwick and Utoxeter respectively, with these successful runs coming over similar distances last winter. He certainly seems to fare well in soft going, so the conditions at Cheltenham should suit him.

In terms of form, it’s fair to say that Brian Ellison’s Definitely Red may carry some genuine momentum into the race. This nine-year old gelding has placed well in his last two steeplechase outings, finishing third at Wetherby and winning at Aintree at the beginning of December. The race at Aintree took place over a three mile course, so there’s no doubt that he can last the distance here.

Prior to this race, Cheltenham will also play host to the exciting Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase. This Grade III, Class I race is sure to wow spectators, with 24 talented runners competing over two miles and four furlongs for a first prize of £42,712.

One of the most consistent contenders in this race is the excellent Drumlee Sunset, with this eight-year old gelding having placed in six of his last seven outings dating back to April 2016. Trained by Tom George, Drumlee Sunset performed well in his last outing at Doncaster in December, following an eight-month hiatus away from the sport.

There are doubts about Drumlee Sunset’s ability to perform over the three mile course, however, and the same cannot be said for his rival L’Ami Serge. Trained by Nicky Henderson, this eight-year old gelding excels over longer courses, while he’s also placed in his last four hurdle races. He finished at second at odds of 5/1 at Ascot last time out, for example, while he was extremely impressive when winning at Auteuil in June last year.

Here, he triumphed from a competitive field of 10 runners, while encountering the type of soft going that he will encounter at Cheltenham.

Wherever you watch racing this weekend, be sure to have fun and check out our site to identify the best free bets and promotions!

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