The meeting dubbed Cheltenham Trials Day takes place this afternoon with three Graded races among the four on telly.
Small fields are the order of the day and betting opportunities are a bit thin on the ground with Chantry House in the Cotswold Chase at 2.30 and Champ in the Cleeve Hurdle at 3.05 both odds-on and, although these races don’t always go to plan, it’s difficult to see past the jollys, so we are ‘no bet’.
The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 3.40 sees the return to action of Hillcrest, unbeaten in three hurdles so far, including a comfortable Listed race over today’s CD four weeks ago. Closest victim on that occasion was I Am Maximus, trained by Nicky Henderson who supplies the main opposition this afternoon with Balco Coastal, also unbeaten over hurdles with a score of 2-2.
Although esteemed trainer will have a good idea where his runner stands in relation to Hillcrest, we think Henry Daly‘s potential star will have too many guns to fire, even with a penalty. We recommend a win bet at 5-4.
The Paddy Power Handicap Chase at 1.55 is first up for ITV and we think this may be Galahad Quest‘s race to lose. Nick Williams‘ 6-y-o has already run really well in two similar CD chases this season and, with the drying ground well in its favour, we recommend an each way bet at 11-2.
We also suggest a ‘cover’ bet on Torn And Frayed, for which there has been a welter of money over the last few days. To be honest, we are not over-enamoured with this 8-y-o’s attitude, but on the grounds that someone knows something we don’t, a win bet at 5-1 looks sensible.
Cameras are also at the meeting at Doncaster for three races, starting with the Sky Bet Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle at 2.10, for which last year’s winner Miranda is a shade of odds-on to repeat the dose. Thing is, this 7-y-o is penalised this time and was somewhat mulish to say the least before consenting to jump off last time out.
We will oppose with a bet on Irish raider Anna Burina.
John McConnell‘s 6-y-o needed the run quite badly last time out four weeks ago but should be spot on today. At 100-30, we take her to do the biz.
The Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle at 2.45 has a field of seven, but with four major firms offering three places we must suggest an each way bet on Coolbane Boy at 13-2.
Sandy Thomson‘s 7-y-o absolutely whizzed home in a Musselburgh handicap last time out and has little to find on ratings, stepping up to Graded company.
The valuable Sky Bet Handicap Chase at 3.20 completes our enjoyment and we throw two darts at this 17 runner affair.
Storm Control bounced back to its best form last time out when dominating from the front at Newbury and is just 5lbs higher today. Kerry Lee‘s charge won off this very mark last season and a repeat is on the cards at 9-1.
We also recommend a bet on one of two Paul Nicholls‘s runners, Kapcorse, which returned from a year’s absence to win convincingly, also at Newbury. This 9-y-o has to finish in the first four today to be able to have a Grand National entry, which is the plan. At 10-1, let’s hope the plan works.
C’est tout, mes amis.
Hillcrest 3.40 Cheltenham 4pts win @ 5-4
Galahad Quest 1.55 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 11-2 (4 places)
Torn And Frayed 1.55 Cheltenham 1pt win @ 5-1
Anna Bunina 2.10 Doncaster 2pts win @ 100-30
Coolbane Boy 2.45 Doncaster 1.5pts e/w @ 13-2 (3 places)
Storm Control 3.20 Doncaster 1pt e/w @ 9-1 (6 places)
Kapcorse 3.20 Doncaster 1pt e/w @ 10-1 (6 places)