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2019 Cotswold Chase tips – 3/1 shot to Escape Cheltenham with Grade Two prize

A view of the runners in last year's Cotswold Chase.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the big race at Cheltenham and provides readers with his tips on Trials Day.

Trials Day at Cheltenham features several stand-out contests, but the most prestigious of the lot as to be the Cotswold Chase. This Grade Two has been won by Gold Cup and Grand National winners down the years, with the names of legends like Master Oats, One Man, Looks Like Trouble and Many Clouds glittering on the trophy.

Frodon (9/4 William Hill) established himself as one of the best chasers in training with a comprehensive victory in the Caspian Caviar and Paul Nicholls’ charge deserves his spot at the head of the betting. The seven-year-old triumphed in the Old Roan on his reappearance before a fine second in the BetVictor Gold Cup. Top weight wasn’t enough to deny Bryony Frost’s mount a lengthy victory in the Caspian Caviar and, although this race is a step up in both class and trip, Frodon’s love of Cheltenham should ensure he challenges for the win at the weekend.

Sitting second in the betting with some firms is Black Corton (7/1 William Hill), who’s yet to win so far this season. Frost will have been disappointed to lose out to Definitely Red, when conditions seemed in his favour, in the Charlie Hall and Nicholls’ charge hated the ground in the Ladbrokes Trophy. Black Corton really caught the eye when staying on powerfully behind Top Notch at Ascot and a stiff test like this will suit.

As Black Corton laboured at Newbury, Elegant Escape (3/1 William Hill) plugged on down the home straight to follow impressive winner, Sizing Tennessee home in the Ladbrokes Trophy. Colin Tizzard’s charge was then heavily backed leading up to the Welsh Grand National and the seven-year-old went on to reward his supporters handsomely, holding off Ramses De Teillee to secure the biggest win of his burgeoning career.

Bryony Frost encourages Frodon to stretch clear during the emphatic victory in the Caspian Caviar Handicap Chase.

Terrefort (7/2 William Hill) clashed with Elegant Escape as the pair made their reappearance at Sandown, with Nicky Henderson’s charge carrying an odds-on price to post. Something was clearly amiss with the Mildmay winner that day, however, as Daryl Jacob’s mount jumping terrible and eventually finishing 50 lengths behind his Cotswold rival. Despite that defeat, Terrefort is fancied by many to rise to the challenge at Cheltenham and he’s too classy to be discounted.

There’s then a decent gap in the betting before we reach former Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco (10/1 William Hill). Jonjo O’Neill has clearly had problems with his top stayer. The Grand National will be his main objective, so a good performance here would be an ideal starting point, but Minella Rocco often needs the run and looks an outside each-way bet at best.

Valtor (9/2 William Hill) could be the second representative for both Nicky Henderson and owners, Munir & Souede. It's unlikely he will run here if Terrefort is declared. Even if he does take his chance, he will have to step up on his Ascot victory, in what’s turning out to be a fairly weak renewal of the Silver Cup.

Harry Fry will have been pleased with American’s (10/1 William Hill) effort in this race last year, where he finished second behind Definitly Red and one place ahead of Bristol De Mai. For the second season in a row, American flopped in the Ladbrokes Trophy on his only start of the season and the ground at Cheltenham is not nearly deep enough for this fragile, mud-loving chaser to be at his best.

Elegant Escape (left) leaps the last on his way to winning the Welsh Grand National.

Black Corton was closing in on Top Notch with every stride in the closing stages of the Casino Chase and would relish a return to three miles. That being said, his best friend, Bryony Frost has already been declared to ride Frodon and I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Corton was removed from the running. Terrefort clearly has talent and, at the age of just six, has plenty of time to achieve his potential. It’s very hard to forget his reappearance at Sandown, however, and Nicky Henderson’s chaser has plenty of making up to do on his second start of the season.

Frodon is clearly a chaser of Grade One ability and is sure to give a good account of himself. Yet, the recent history of the Cotswold Chase favours Grand National types – with Aintree winners Many Clouds and Neptune Collongnes outstaying their rivals here at Cheltenham – and I think ELEGANT ESCAPE will be on the premises to deny Frodon in the dash for the line.

Elegant Escape showed staying ability and battling qualities beyond his years last year. Tizzard’s seven-year-old may have come up short in big races like the RSA and the Mildmay, but that was all part of his learning curve and it’s clear he has matured since last spring.

Harry Cobden’s mount never gave up at Newbury, despite being unable to deny Sizing Tennessee a comfortable victory and conducted himself with real class in the Welsh Grand National. Frodon is likely to set off at a brisk pace and it will be up to Elegant Escape to stick with him. If he remains within touching distance as they embark on the uphill climb to the line, Elegant Escape’s extra staying power should see him claim a huge victory.

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2019 Cotswold Chase tips – 3/1 shot to Escape Cheltenham with Grade Two prize

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the big race at Cheltenham and provides readers with his tips on Saturday 26th January.

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