This Weekend’s Racing: A Preview Of The Cheltenham Trials Day
January 26, 2017
The countdown to the pinnacle of the jump season is firmly on with the Cheltenham Festival just weeks away. This spectacular bonanza spread out over four days showcases the very best horses, jockeys and trainers battling it out for the biggest honours in an attempt to establish themselves as top dog in their field.
As this momentous occasion moves tantalisingly closer, all race enthusiasts and punters must divert their attention to this coming Saturday – Cheltenham Trials Day. Even though it may seem nothing more than a support act to the celebrated headliner, this warm-up event provides an in-depth guide and invaluable insight to those likely to succeed in March.
Cheltenham Trials Day never ceases to impart some noteworthy festival signs and here are some tips ahead of Saturday’s key encounters which promise to be ultra-competitive and sure to attract a significant number of high-quality entrants.
JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial
The opening race of the day has the makings of a classic and should set the tone for a superb day of racing at the famous Prestbury Park. Contested over two miles and a furlong for four-year-old juveniles, Saturday’s runners can put themselves in the picture ahead of the Triumph Hurdle at The Festival, although in the last 28 years, only one horse has achieved victory in both events – Katchit in 2007.
JP McManus-owned Defi Du Seuil goes in as the market leader after claiming the Grade 1 Finale Hurdle at Chepstow over Christmas in completing his hat-trick over the smaller obstacles. Charli Parcs recently ran out a most convincing winner of the 32Red Casino Introductory Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton and he has been installed at odds of 8/1 solely on the back of this impressive performance.
The BetBright Cotswold Trial Chase
Riders must overcome 21 fences if they are to triumph in this trial race for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The last favourite to take this title was Cyfor Malta back in 1999 and this year sees trainer Colin Tizzard enter Gold Cup favourite and King George VI Chase victor Thistlecrack for more track time. Other strong contenders are likely to be Smad Place and Many Clouds – the latter being a winner of this race two years ago.
The Cleeve Hurdle Trial
This encounter is the key audition for the World Hurdle at the Festival. It is the second of the Grade 2 contests to take place with the likes of the legendary Big Buck’s and the aforementioned Thistlecrack all going on to claim Cheltenham Festival glory after landing the Cleeve Hurdle title.
Ante-post frontrunner Unowhatimeanharry will be intent on justifying that status against older rival Ballyoptic who still led him narrowly when falling at the last in the Long Walk at Ascot last month. Simply reflecting on previous winners of this race is enough to confirm its importance when placing a wager on the World Hurdle and is therefore always followed very closely by race goers.