Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham is the undoubted highlight of today’s events, with seven races to enjoy and a few to get stuck into.
Let’s start with a look at the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle, at 3.35, a Grade 2 over 3miles.
Favourite of the 10 due to take part is Finian’s Oscar at 100-30, closely followed by Wholestone at 7-2.
Finian’s Oscar returns to hurdling, after looking every inch NOT a chaser and steps up to this trip for the first time, which looks a big ask and, at the price, is no value.
The consistent Wholestone is a four time course winner and must go well, but the 6lb penalty carried this afternoon may just find it out at the business end.
A glance at the headline may tell you which way we are heading and that is towards an each way bet on The Worlds End at 6-1. This Tom George trained 7-y-o was looking all over the winner of the Albert Bartlett at last year’s Festival before crashing out at the second last and went on to take the Grade 1 Novices race (appropriately named the Doom Bar) at Aintree 3 weeks later.
Two runs this season have seen this horse coming back to its best, with a 4th place behind the exceptional Sam Spinner at the end of December the latest. With the key to this race being ‘staying power’, Adrian Heskin’s mount can surge up the famous hill to victory.
Most valuable race on the card is the BetBright Cotswold Chase at 2.25 which features the return to action of the somewhat enigmatic Bristol De Mai, which is favourite at a skinny 7-4. Last seen tailing off at Kempton behind Might Bite, this 7-y-o had previously won the Betfair Chase by no less than 57 lengths, a distance put down to the unraceable conditions and the horse’s enormous feet.
Which horse will turn up today is problematic, but you don’t need guesswork at 7-4, so we pass.
A better bet, with the infamous ‘dead eight’ field, is an each way punt on Tea For Two at an attractive 9-1. On the two occasions this horse has crossed swords with Bristol De Mai, our selection has come out on top, including in the Kempton race, when TFT finished a close third and, if Lizzie Kelly can keep the partnership intact, which didn’t happen on their last visit to this course, every chance of a good run.
Little Miss Mouthy may well be on a roll by then, having taken the Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase at 1.50 on Daddy-trained Coo Star Sivola.
A rule change introduced this season means that the Handicapper cannot alter a horse’s rating after running in a non-handicap and last time out, over this course and distance, Cool Star Sivola split two horses rated 147 and 145 respectively. Shrewdly, Nick Williams has refrained from running again until today, when his charge can compete off just 135 and his patience should be rewarded with a 100-30 winner.
In case of accidents, we also recommend an each way bet on the longer priced of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ two runners, Arctic Gold, available at a juicy 14-1. Placed 4 times in six attempts over the larger obstacles, this 7-y-o has the services of the excellent Tom Humphries and could surprise a few of the better fancied runners.
If everything goes horribly wrong in the earlier races, worry not, as we have the ‘getting out’ stakes aka Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle at 4.10 well and truly sorted.
Le Patriote, a French import now trained by Dr Richard Newland, will win it. Travelled like the winner for much of the way in the Lanzarote on stable debut, before finding the last two furlongs just too much, finishing 9 lengths off the pace. Today’s trip of 2m 1f will be ideal and Daryl Jacob is the ideal pilot. Get on at 11-4 please.
Also have an each way investment on the Brian Ellison trained Zaidiyn at 12-1.
Ignoring the adage that, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t back it, this 8-y-o came back from a long lay-off to run a cracker at Wetherby and is well-weighted on old form, so could hunt up the Fav.
C’est tout, mes amis.
The Worlds End 3.35 Cheltenham e/w @ 6-1 bet365 ( 5-1 Ladbrokes 4 places)
Tea For Two 2.25 Cheltenham e/w @ 9-1 William Hill
Cool Star Sivola 1.50 Cheltenham win @ 100-30 Coral
Arctic Gold 1.50 Cheltenham e/w @ 14-1 William Hill ( 12-1 Ladbrokes 4 places)
Le Patriote 4.10 Cheltenham win @ 11-4 10Bet
Zaidiyn 4.10 Cheltenham e/w @ 12-1 Betbright