The BetBright Cup Chase the pick of the bunch on Cheltenham Trials Day
With an exciting day of racing lined up for Saturday, January 24th, it looks like we’ve picked a real cracker to sponsor, with a number of serious Gold Cup contenders lining out in the BetBright Cup Chase at 1.50pm.
With a small army of BetBright customers in attendance courtesy of our ever-helpful ticket fairies, it promises to be a really special occasion for all in attendance!
As ever, here’s the entire race day covered and previewed, with the BetBright verdict on each of them.
12.40 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (2m1f)
All eyes will be on Triumph favourite Peace And Co, who was hugely impressive when brushing aside Starchitect in Doncaster’s Summit Hurdle last month, and it’s hard to argue against him being at the top of the juvenile rankings at present.
If there is a downside with the likely favourite it’s that he’s clearly very quick, a notion backed up by his pedigree, and may well prove best when speed, rather than stamina, is at a premium. He runs here to test his credentials for the main event in March, and the undulating track and soft ground will proved a stiffer test for him that he experienced on Town Moor.
It’s possible that he’ll be equally at home in the mud, while he’s sure to be last off the bridle if in the same form as for his UK debut, so his stamina may not be tested to the limit. All in all, he’s sure to take a deal of beating, but the minor doubts raised by conditions means he’s not quite the certainty which the figures make him out to be.
Karezak provides an excellent marker, having chased home Hargam and Bristol de Mai on his last two starts, and he’s sure to run his race again, while Bivouac has won both starts for Nicky Henderson with a bit to spare and isn’t a bad second string to have.
Ibis du Rheu has a lofty home reputation, and although the bare form of his win at Enghien for Guillaume Macaire needs improving on, that came back in April, and he will have matured considerably since. Without doubt, this is the best juvenile hurdle seen this season, and it should be a treat to witness.
Selection: Peace And Co
Alternative: Ibis du Rheu
1.15 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (2m5f)
Previous winners include subsequent Cheltenham Festival winners Monsieur Le Cure, Royal Auclair and La Landiere, and if there’s another in that mould, then it may be Carole’s Destrier. Neil Mulholland does remarkably well with his chasers at Cheltenham, and in Carole’s Destrier, he has a chaser of some potential.
An impressive winner at Exeter on his penultimate start, he’s been handed a mark of 143 by the handicapper, and the pair who he beat comprehensively that day have both won since, and share a mark just a pound lower than their conqueror.
That suggests that the son of Kayf Tara is well treated, and although he ran a stinker on his handicap debut at Chepstow, that came under puzzling hold-up tactics which didn’t suit him at all, and he’s expected to bounce back as long as he’s allowed to stride on and utilise his bold jumping.
If Carole’s Destrier doesn’t kick on, then that role will surely fall to Stellar Notion, who has made every yard when winning both starts to date over fences, and he had the reopposing Generous Ransom back in third when scoring impressively at Kempton over Christmas.
Tom George’s son of Presenting seems to handle all types of ground, and is still improving, so another rise in the weights shouldn’t be enough to stop him going close again. He’s easily the biggest threat to the selection.
Selection: Carole’s Destrier
Alternative: Stellar Notion
1.50 Betbright Cup Chase (3m1f110y)
King George runner-up Dynaste is clear on official ratings, so looks the obvious one at first glance having also won the Ryanair at this venue. There is an argument to suggest that the extended 25 furlongs could stretch his stamina to the limit, however, and the combination of track and trip may not be ideal for one with plenty of weight to carry.
Black Thunder is one who may well have a big race in him at some point, but he’s another with plenty of weight given the penalty conditions here, and Smad Place makes more appeal having raced only once this term.
The 2014 RSA runner-up is a contemporary of both Black Thunder and Many Clouds, who both came down in that Cheltenham race. It’s notable that Smad Place was more fancied than that pair there, and he can now meet them on 8 lb better terms having finished a creditable fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup in November.
Alan King admitted afterwards that it was a mistake going to Newbury without a prep run, and he couldn’t get to grips with a race-fit Many Clouds. Rested since, he comes here fresh, but likely to be sharp enough to reverse for with Many Clouds, who endured a tough race in victory.
Djakadam showed at Gowran on Thursday that a poor run at Newbury was no bar to success, and that will have instilled confidence in the connections of Smad Place, who could easily develop into a Gold Cup candidate in an open year.
Selection: Smad Place
2.25 FREEBETS.COM TROPHY CHASE (2M5F)
Little Jon impressed me enough as a hurdler last year despite his build and background suggesting he’d be much better over fences, and he proved the point at the first time of asking at Newton Abbot in October, giving weight and a beating to the Paul Nicholls-trained Solar Impulse.
That preceded a trio of runs in higher company here, and the bottom line is that the long-striding son of Pasternak hasn’t beaten another rival.
That said, he actually ran a cracker when a close third over 2m in November, and has crashed out when leading on his next two starts. Despite those aberrations, he appeals as a pretty sound jumper, if inclined to take the occasional fence (or indeed wing) on.
The upside of his failures is that he’s not revealed the full extent of his ability, and therefore the handicapper hasn’t been as severe as he might have been, accepting that an opening mark of 140 is no gimme.
Main opposition comes primarily in the shape of Easter Day for Paul Nicholls, and he can’t be ruled out of calculations, for all his odds will be skinny enough. More interesting at the forecast prices is Annacotty, who was second in the novice handicap on this card last year.
He was another who couldn’t cope with the demands of the Hennessy first time out, but he’s reportedly been perked up by a spell hunting, and also has cheekpieces fitted, so should have no excuses. He was a Grade 1 winner last year, and that fact shouldn’t be overlooked.
Selection: Little Jon
3.00 NEPTUNE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT NOVICES’ HURDLE (2M4F110Y)
No UK-based novice hurdler has impressed me more this season than Value At Risk, who was enormously eyecatching when winning at Newbury on his debut for Dan Skelton, pulling well clear from the last hurdle despite coming under no pressure whatsoever.
The half-brother to RSA runner-up Battlecry was a decent bumper performer for the disgraced Philip Fenton, but is essentially a high-class staying chaser in the making (his dam won the Midlands National, and he is built like the proverbial tank). The stiffer test which this race provides compared to Newbury will elicit further progress, and he looks a cut above some admittedly useful rivals.
Present View is better known as a chaser, and is presumably being geared towards the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at the Festival in March, but he’s capable of going well based on his effort here in October.
His chase form does suggest he can do better still in this sphere, and he may give the selection most to do. That said, Vago Collonges, Stilletto and Robinsfirth are also unexposed, and could easily improve enough to have a say for the minor honours.
Selection: Value At Risk
Alternative: Present View
3.35 GALLIARDHOMES.COM CLEEVE HURDLE (3M)
Cole Harden won the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby from Medinas, and rather set the race up for that rival at Newbury next time, pulling well clear of World Hurdle winner More of That in doing so.
That strikes us as more solid form than Reve de Sivola’s Ascot win, and the latter hasn’t always been as effective here. Saphir du Rheu is a fascinating runner, as he represents the same connections as previous winner Big Buck’s, and like that former stablemate, has been switched back to hurdles after failing to complete in two of his three chase starts.
He’s entitled to maximum respect, but his connection with the multiple World Hurdle hero seems responsible for the stingy ante-post prices, and he’s opposable unless drifting.
Perhaps the most interesting runner is Un Temps Pour Tout, who cost €450,000 from France, and beat Cole Harden easily in an Ascot novice a year ago.
That form looks good now, but there must be a doubt about the ability of David Pipe’s runner to see out this stiff 3m given he’s been campaigned over shorter to date. If he does stay, then he must go close, but preference is for the proven form of the horse he beat at Ascot.
Selection: Cole Harden
Alternative: Un Temps Pour Tout
4.10 STEEL PLATE AND SECTIONS HANDICAP HURDLE (2M1F)
It’s been a mixed season for Chris Gordon, enjoying by far the best campaign of his training career, but hit recently by the death of flagbearer King Edmund, who did more than most to establish his handler.
Taking over the mantle may well be Lightentertainment, who has proved a revelation of late, winning four of his last five in handicap hurdles, and the son of King’s Theatre hasn’t finished improving yet, it appears.
His latest defeat of Harristown has been franked by third-placed Beau Lake, and he’s able to meet that reopposing rival on better terms now.
Kiama Bay is another to have exceeded expectations in a belated novice campaign, and his second in the Rossington Main to Aso gives him every chance.
The worry with Jim Best’s charge is that he might be ideally suited to a flat track given his forward-going nature, but he’s going from strength to strength, and isn’t one to underestimate.
Alternative: Kiama Bay