This weekend it’s Cheltenham again and the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase gives everyone another chance to see Thistlecrack on route to the Festival proper…
As we look towards a strong weekend of horse racing the eyes of most fans will be trained on Cheltenham once again. A number of Festival hopefuls will take centre stage on Trials Day but the hearts and minds of racing fans across the board will ride with Thistlecrack in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase.
Racing has witnessed the unpredictable and often volatile nature of British weather over the past couple of weeks and the loss of Ascot’s meeting last weekend means patrons to Cheltenham this Saturday will be treated to 9 races including the re-routed Grade 1 Clarence House Chase.
The Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase is a race that has seen some notable winners in the past with Smad Place and Exotic Dancer victorious as well as Grand National conquerors Many Clouds and Neptune Collonges tasting glory in recent memory. Smad Place and Many Clouds both look set to feature again in this year’s installment and should prove a stern test for the champion in waiting.
Thistlecrack scored on the same card last year on route to putting closest rival, Alpha Des Obeaux to the sword in the World Hurdle. Colin Tizzard and connections have made no secret of their ambitions this season with their star novice and this challenge on Saturday will likely represent his last before a crack at the biggest prize of all at Prestbury Park in March.
BetBright Chairman Rich Ricci is keenly aware of the challenges facing a Gold Cup contender, he has come incredibly close to winning the Gold Cup with his “Iron horse” Djakadam and has made no secret of his desire to secure national hunt racing’s most coveted prize.
“I have been very impressed with Thistlecrack and I’m often asked which horse I would most like to own outside of my horses and it’s easy to say this one. His King George performance at Kempton was spectacular. It is also very exciting that the last two winners of the BetBright Cotswold Chase will be taking him on this coming Saturday”
With a Triumph hurdle trial to kick things off early at 12pm its top class all the way, there are three races before Un De Sceuax takes on challengers in the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase over 2m1/2f which will surely test Willie Mullin’s “heart on the sleeve chaser” before his Festival target is confirmed.
That will lead everyone into Thistlecrack and rivals for the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at 2.15pm before another added extra for everyone watching will see the re-arranged Cross Country Handicap Chase take place at 2.50pm.
If, somehow, you summon the energy for more; then three races will follow including the Neptune Trial at 3.25pm, won in the past by the great Bob’s Worth and indeed last year by Yanworth, plus the prestigious Cleeve Hurdle at 4.00pm has a roll of honour that includes Inglis Drever, Big Bucks and was won in 2016 by this year’s sensation Thistlecrack.
9 races is still one fewer than the Festival Thursday at this venue in 2008 but the combination of thrilling entries and the bumper card will see racing fans clearing their schedules of Saturday commitments in anticipation. Many big names will feature, each with their own planned trajectory beyond this weekend; some on to the Festival, others elsewhere but the real question remains.
Can Thistlecrack be challenged, or is he destined to continue his perfect march towards a place in the racing history books?
It’s Festival clues aplenty and top class racing for all on Trials Day!
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.