Cheltenham Festival Trials Day Review

With not long to go before the Cheltenham Festival is in full swing, Festival Trials Day gives us the chance to predict which horses will come up trumps on the big day. Last year we saw three festival trials winners go on to secure victory at The Festival, which leaves us wondering if the same could happen this year. Plenty took place during Festival Trials Day last Saturday, so there is much to be discussed. Let’s take a look at exactly what happened during each of the races.

JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle

It was Galahad Quest who galloped to victory during the Grade 2 race along with jockey Harry Cobden. The race began with a lead from Monte Cristo with Galahad Quest just behind in second. The four-year-old, who is trained by Nick Williams, said ‘I think it was a good performance. It was good form but I brought him as a three-mile chase prospect, so I didn’t want to do too much with him this season.’ Despite the win, Williams is not sure whether Galahad Quest will enter the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. ‘I don’t really see him as Triumph prospect myself, it’s possible. I’d rather look after him to be honest.’ Watch this space to see if he runs on the big day.

Timeform Novices Handicap Chase

A much more competitive race than the former. It was a close call throughout between Simply The Betts, On The Slopes and Imperial Aura. However, it was Simply The Betts who came out on top with jockey Gavin Sheehan. Having displayed a shaky performance at Kempton over Christmas, Simply The Betts managed to jump well during Trials Day but would he be able to live up to the competition in the Novices’ Handicap Chase on Champion Day? Runners are still to be confirmed so keep your eyes peeled.

Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase

This race caused a mixture of emotions for racing fans. It began with Caspian Cavier Gold Cup winner, Warthog being pulled up by jockey David Noonan due to injury just after the first fence. Sadly, the injury was fatal and he lost his life later that day. Trainer, David Pipe, tweeted ‘fly high big lad, thank you for the great days’.

The race continued as winner Cepage took a strong lead throughout, with the other horses snapping at his heels. In what is the eight-year old’s first Cheltenham victory, trainer Venetia Williams said ‘I’m absolutely thrilled as he deserved to win one of these. He has run so many good races he had worked his way up to be top weight in this.’ He is set to run in both the Ryanair Chase and Gold Cup during The Cheltenham Festival. It will be interesting to see how he fairs against such fierce competition.

Paddypower Cotswold Chase

It was Nicky Henderson’s Santini that rose to victory during this Grade 2 race with jockey Nico de Boinville. Last year’s winner Bristol De Mai took the lead for much of the race but Santini was successful in fending him off during the final stretch despite making an error just before the final jump. Santini looks now to be a promising runner for the Gold Cup in March. Henderson believes that good ground will be the key to Santini’s success for the Grade 1 race and how satisfying it has been to see him make this comeback.

Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle

Six-year-old Harry Senior came out on top during this Grade 2 race with jockey Robbie Power. It was uncertain how he would perform giving that he had to be withdrawn from Warwick two weeks ago.  It seems that he is now on track for the Albert Bartlett Novice’s Hurdle on Gold Cup Day. Trainer Colin Tizzard mentioned that ‘he won’t run again before Cheltenham as we would like to think he could run again at Aintree or Punchestown.’ We all eagerly await to see how Harry Senior performs in March. Cleeve Hurdle

Perhaps the most anticipated race of the day. Everyone had high hopes for Paisley Park and he didn’t disappoint! Having won the Cleeve Hurdle last year and going on to win the Stayers Hurdle, bookmakers are confident that he can be the star of the show again in March. That being said, there will definitely be some stiff competition. Willie Mullins is confident that Benie Des Dieux could pose a threat to Paisley Park following a recent victory a Gowran Park. It will surely be an enthralling race no matter the result.

Steel Plate and Sections Handicap Hurdle

The final race of the day, it was Back On The Lash who came up trumps with jockey Jonathan Burke. The six-year-old won by over three lengths much to the delight of trainer Martin Keighley. He mentioned how Back On The Lash was his 20th Cheltenham winner. He commented on how he didn’t have a winner last year so he was extremely pleased by this result.  ‘I always thought Back On The Lash had a bright future.’ He said. ‘He’s so tough and genuine. As you saw today, he wants to win.’

Well, there you have it – a breakdown of all the Festival Trials Day action. Will any of these successes go on to prevail at The Cheltenham Festival in just a few weeks’ time? Make your predictions and we’ll soon see who comes out on top.



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