Tips for Saturday’s feature meeting – Through the card picks for Cheltenham Trials Day

Brian Healy looks at Saturday's feature meeting at Cheltenham and he has race-by-race selections for a top-class fixture.

Brian Healy looks at Saturday’s Cheltenham Festival Trials Day racecard and gives his race-by-race selections for all seven races on the card. Keep reading to get his Cheltenham Trials Day tips.

The last meeting to be staged at Cheltenham prior to the start of the Cheltenham Festival in March, Festival Trials Day at the premier UK jumps venue promises to be a top-class afternoon of racing action with no less than four Grade Two races on the card.

Featuring the Cotswold Chase and the Cleeve Hurdle where reigning Stayers’ Hurdle champion Paisley Park could complete his preparation for his title defence next month by winning the race for a second straight race enroute, there is sure to be plenty of Festival clues on offer throughout the afternoon.

12:40 – JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Finesse) Cl1 (4yo) 2m1f
1:15 – Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase Cl2 (5yo+) 2m4½f
1:50 – Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4½f
2:25 – Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (Grade 2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1½f
3:00 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Registered As The Classic Novices’ Hurdle) (Grade 2) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4½f
3:35 – galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m
4:10 – Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m1f

The pick of the Saturday action at Cheltenham will be shown live on ITV Racing, but Brian Healy looks through the day’s racecard at Prestbury Park where he gives his race-by-race selections and tips on a fantastic afternoon of jumps racing.

CHELTENHAM TRIALS DAY TIPS

12:40 – ROWLAND WARD (9/4, William Hill)
1:15 – CLOUDY GLEN (9/1, Betway)
1:50 – HIGHWAY ONE O ONE (6/1, Bet365)
2:25 – TOP VILLE BEN (8/1, Unibet)
3:00 – HARRY SENIOR (6/1, Betway)
3:35 – PAISLEY PARK (8/11, William Hill)
4:10 – AINCHEA (6/1, William Hill)

12:40 – JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Finesse) Cl1 (4yo) 2m1f

Monte Cristo could be another potentially smart sort for Nicky Henderson on his first outing since arriving from France where he boasts some useful form including a win last time out. However it could be worth chancing ROWLAND WARD (9/4, William Hill) who looked a good prospect when winning readily at Kempton during the Christmas Festival meeting.

The Sea The Stars gelding was a winner on the flat for Ralph Beckett prior to joining the Stuart Edmunds camp for a jumps campaign, and he was yet to be asked for maximum effort when falling two out on his hurdles debut at Warwick last month.

He put that experience to good use next time, readily beating Thyme White by two lengths, showing a smart turn of foot late on. That race has thrown up a subsequent winner, and he looks sure to improve again so it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see another bold showing here for all he probably does need a shade more now taking on the Henderson runner who is clearly well regarded thrust into a Grade Two on his UK debut.

12:40 Cheltenham – JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Finesse) Cl1 (4yo) 2m1f

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ROWLAND WARD 9 /4
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Ciaran Gethings can steer Rowland Ward to success at Cheltenham.

Ciaran Gethings can steer Rowland Ward to success at Cheltenham.

1:15 – Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase Cl2 (5yo+) 2m4½f

Champagne Court is respected in his hat-trick bid, but he has another 5lbs rise in the weights to contend with in a stronger race and it might be worth siding with CLOUDY GLEN (9/1, Betway) who has improved with each completed start over fences.

Venetia Williams’ charge finished fourth on his chase debut at Exeter behind Notachance, but he was subsequently denied only by a neck behind the prolific Chapel Stile when next seen out at Carlisle. He fell early at Market Rasen on Boxing Day, but he showed no signs of that fall affecting him when readily beating Secret Reprieve in a Haydock Match four days later, and he can improve again.

He made all the running that day from his sole rival, and he was well in command from a long way out, so there could be more to come from him with conditions underfoot unlikely to present a problem. This is tougher, but the handicapper has left him alone, and the Cloudings gelding could take full advantage of his low weight to go close.

1:15 Cheltenham – Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase Cl2 (5yo+) 2m4½f

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CLOUDY GLEN 9 /1
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1:50 – Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4½f

HIGHWAY ONE O ONE (6/1, Bet365) might just have gone off too hard too soon at Kempton latest, but the Stowaway gelding only gave way late in that contest to eventually finish third behind Just A Sting, and a subsequent 3lbs rise for that outing could still leave Chris Gordon’s charge on a workable mark.

A dual-winner last term, he was an early casualty in the BetVictor Gold Cup where he unseated his rider at the fifth fence; but he showed no ill effects when running well for fourth behind Benny’s King at Newbury, and he was only run down late latest, succumbing by just one length.

A drop back to this trip could suit with the underfoot conditions no issue, and he has placed twice from his four starts at Cheltenham so the track won’t be an excuse. Indeed, he finished runner-up in the preceding race on this card twelve months ago from just 2lbs lower.

Likely to be one of the pace angles in the race, he could go well in a competitive contest under Jamie Moore.

1:50 Cheltenham – Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4½f

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HIGHWAY ONE O ONE 6 /1
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2:25 – Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (Grade 2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1½f

Bristol De Mai sets the form standard and has a few pounds on his five rivals; but it might be worth siding with TOP VILLE BEN (8/1, Unibet) to take another step up the chasing ladder and the Beneficial gelding posted a career-best effort when readily taking the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day by six lengths from Didero Vallis.

Phil Kirby’s charge has threatened to make a very smart chaser following wins on each of his first two starts over fences last term, and he was thought good enough to contest the RSA Chase last term where he got no further than the sixth fence although he quickly bounced back with a Wetherby win next time.

He turned in a blinder to finish just six lengths’ third to Lostintranslation in an Aintree Grade One contest on his final start, and he shaped better for his reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase to win everywhere by the line in the Rehearsal Chase where he was only run down late.

He bolted up latest though, and while this is tougher he’ll relish the soft ground and there is a suspicion he has a bigger effort to come. This is by far his toughest test, but he can give a good account nonetheless here.

2:25 Cheltenham – Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (Grade 2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1½f

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TOP VILLE BEN 8 /1
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Top Ville Ben can mount a Cotswold Chase shock in the Cheltenham Trials feature.

Top Ville Ben can mount a Cotswold Chase shock in the Cheltenham Trials feature.

3:00 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Registered As The Classic Novices’ Hurdle) (Grade 2) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4½f

Colin Tizzard has made a bit of a habit of landing big weekend prizes, and HARRY SENIOR (6/1, Betway) could be another success story for the Dorset handler with the Oscar gelding taken to claim this prize.

A late scratching from the recent Leamington Hurdle, he has shown improved form with each start, progressing well to get off the mark at the fourth attempt with a bloodless win over Global Fame at Chepstow just after Christmas where he struck by five lengths and appearing suited by the stiffer test of stamina.

On the bare form he has a little bit to find with a couple of these, but he is clearly going the right way and has proven that soft ground is no issue. This further step up in trip also ought to suit and can deliver another jolt of improvement so he could be set for a big run stepping up in grade.

The form of his earlier Exeter runner-up finish in November has worked out extremely well with the winner, third, fourth and fifth horses all winning since and he can find the requisite improvement for his in-form handler to make his mark at this level.

3:00 Cheltenham – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Registered As The Classic Novices’ Hurdle) (Grade 2) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4½f

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HARRY SENIOR 6 /1
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3:35 – galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m

PAISLEY PARK (8/11, William Hill) took this race twelve months ago enroute to also taking the Stayers’ Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival and Emma Lavelle’s charge ought to be hard to beat in defence of his title here.

The Oscar gelding only finished 13th in the 2018 Albert Bartlett Hurdle; but last season saw him progress hand over fist and out of all recognition where he won all five starts, including the premier Stayers’ Hurdle last March.

He was made to dig deep on his reappearance in the Long Distance Hurdle back in November, but he found plenty to hold off former Stayers’ Hurdle winner Thistlecrack and he’ll be much sharper for that run where The Worlds End was further back in third. That one has won since to give the form a boost, and likely to improve for his Newbury reappearance he rates the one to beat here.

3:35 Cheltenham – galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m

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PAISLEY PARK 8 /11
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Aidan Coleman salutes the stands as he guides Paisley Park to victory in the Stayers' Hurdle.

Paisley Park can win a second successive Cleeve Hurdle on Cheltenham Trials Day.

4:10 – Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m1f

AINCHEA (6/1, William Hill) went close in a Listed race here on New Years’ Day 2018 where he was beaten only by Tikkanbar, and Colin Tizzard’s charge subsequently fell at Sandown on his next start where he might have won having held a two lengths’ advantage over the last hurdle.

The Flemensfirth gelding wasn’t seen out again for the thick end of two years following that mishap, and so he was well entitled to need his reappearance back at Sandown behind Mill Green where he wasn’t given a hard time in beating only two rivals home.

That run is likely to have brought him on however and he should be sharper with the outing his belt; while he has a tongue-tie applied for the first time which could elicit some improvement. While this is a competitive contest he finds himself in now for his second start back, the handicapper might have taken a chance in dropping him 5lbs following his last outing, and still unexposed as a hurdler he could post a big effort here.

4:10 Cheltenham – Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m1f

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AINCHEA 6 /1
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CHELTENHAM TRIALS DAY TIPS

12:40 – ROWLAND WARD (9/4, William Hill)
1:15 – CLOUDY GLEN (9/1, Betway)
1:50 – HIGHWAY ONE O ONE (6/1, Bet365)
2:25 – TOP VILLE BEN (8/1, Unibet)
3:00 – HARRY SENIOR (6/1, Betway)
3:35 – PAISLEY PARK (8/11, William Hill)
4:10 – AINCHEA (6/1, William Hill)

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