While this weekend may be relatively quiet on the horse racing front, there are still seven meetings scheduled to take place across the length and breadth of the UK on Saturday and Sunday.
This number consists of two sprints and five jump race meetings, including the prestigious Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham tomorrow.
We’ll review some of the best action below, looking at where you should watch horse racing this weekend.
Cheltenham – Saturday, 26th January
We’ll start at Cheltenham, with the Festival Trials Day scheduled to host seven hurdle races – including five Class I events.
The pick of these is the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase, which is a Grade 2 race that takes place over three miles and one furlong. A total of six runners will compete here, with a hefty cheque of £56,270 awaiting the winner.
This fascinating race could well come down to a two-horse contest between Froden and Elegant Escape. The former is a seven-year old horse trained by Paul Nicholls, who has won two of his last three steeplechase outings dating back to October 2018.
This run included a superb win at Cheltenham on December 15th, when he romped away from a competitive field of 12 despite a relatively prohibitive starting price of 7/1. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that he’ll start as the 2/1 favourite here, particularly given his fondness for the Cheltenham track and ability in heavy going.
As for Elegant Escape, this seven-year old is another competitor who’ll enter the race in excellent form and certainly offers outstanding value at odds of 11/4.
Trained by Colin Tizzard, this talented gelding has also won two of his last three steeplechase outings, while also placing in the top three of each of his last 10 races.
As a result, he undoubtedly represents a viable each-way bet at Cheltenham on Saturday, while his stunning performance when winning over a similar distance at Chestow in December suggests that he’ll be there or thereabouts at the end.
Doncaster – Saturday, 26th January
Saturday will also see a seven-race jump meeting at Doncaster, with the Sky Bet Chase Raceday representing an extremely popular event on the calendar.
The pick of these races is the Grade 2, Class I olbg.com Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle, which will see six further runners compete for a first prize of £28,475.
There a couple of likely winners here, including the ultra-talented mare Lady Buttons. This nine-year old horse has won four of her last five steeplechase and hurdle outings, with this run including three successive victories between November and December last year.
The last of these wins came in good to soft conditions at Doncaster on December 29th, so she’ll have undoubtedly has a slight edge over her rivals on Saturday.
The challenge of Chica Buena should not be underestimated, however, with this four-year filly bringing youth, dynamism and no little talent to the table.
She’s also showcased incredibly consistent form of late, placing in the top three in each of her last six jump outings since August. This superb run included a four-race running streak – while this weekend will see her make her debut at Doncaster, she’s sure to feature in the final reckoning.
Sedgefield – Sunday, 27th January
We close with another afternoon jump meeting on Sunday, when seven races will take at Sedgefield.
This includes the Class 3 Brian Ellison Racing Club Chase, which is a novice’s limited handicap race with seven evenly-matched runners. There’s a prize fund just under £15,000 on offer here, although punters may find it hard to select a definite winner.
However, the early front-runner here is the 9/4 shot Charmant, who is seven years old and has been trained by James Ewart.
This gelding has won his last two steeplechasing outings, while he also placed well in eight successive hurdle races dating back to February 2017.
He also won impressively at Sedgefield in good conditions on November 1st, and he’ll be well backed to produce a similar result this time around.
Elsewhere, Sam England’s nine-year old gelding Manwell is also being heavily favoured by punters, particularly given the fact that he has finished in the top two in each of his last eight steeplechase outings since November 2017.
This represents an outstanding run, and one that included an exceptional win at Catterick on New Year’s Day. He vanquished a competitive field of eight here, and at the very least he represents a superb each-way bet on Sunday.