Cheltenham Trials Day

January 29th, 2019 | Stu Williams

Cheltenham Trials Day Review

12.40 – JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (2m179y)

Irish raider Fakir D’oudaries elevated himself to the head of the betting for the Triumph Hurdle with an impressive 13 lengths success in the hands of JJ Slevin.

The French-bred son of Kapgarde travelled prominently throughout and never looked in danger after taking up the running with two flights of hurdles left to jump.

The ease with which he shot clear of multiple previous winners was hugely impressive and he could easily have more to come with that valuable experience under his belt.

Fakir D’oudaries is currently trading at a top price of 6/1 for the Festival, but is already as short as 4/1 in places.

Stablemate Fine Brunello also ran a race full of promise and could be one for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle if connections can get another run into him between now and March.

The JP McManus owned four-year-old battled on stoically and displayed definite progression from his debut over Christmas. He is currently at 20/1 shot for the Juvenile Handicap in March.

1.15 – Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (2m4f127y)

Kildisart ran out a good winner of this two-and-a-half-miles contest and his trainer Ben Pauling has already turned his attentions to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The Cotswolds based handler identified the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase as his likely target in his post-race interview and providing the handicapper doesn’t overreact he would most certainly be a strong contender in a race where the handicap generally spans just 6-7lb.

Highway One O One, who cut out the running, and Spiritofthegames, who was sent off a well supported 3/1 favourite, conceded 2lb and 5lb respectively to the winner and ran perfectly respectable races in defeat.

While the fourth placed horse Dentley De Mee plugged on resolutely and looks just the type to land a decent pot when everything falls right.

1.50 – Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Trophy Handicap Chase (2m4f127y)

Siruh Du Lac dug deep to land this Grade 3 handicap for Nick Williams and Lizzie Kelly.

The progressive son of Turgeon is now 5-7 over fences and appeared to have plenty up his sleeve when briefly headed by the eventual runner-up Janika up the famous Cheltenham Hill.

Stablemate Coo Star Sivola placed fourth in the corresponding contest 12 months ago before landing the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. It would be no surprise to see this improving six-year-old try to emulate that success in March.

The runner-up ran another fine race and will surely land a contest of this nature at some stage. However, he was handed a 5lb rise for his second placed effort at Ascot and will undoubtedly receive another hike following Saturday solid effort.

Ballyhill, who placed third, ran right up to form but may be in the grasp of the handicapper at present.

2.25 – BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase (3m1f56y)

I am sure that I am not alone in running out of superlatives to describe the deadly duo of Bryony Frost and Frodon, who continued to defy the doubters with victory in the Cotswold Chase on Saturday.

Paul Nicholls’ Prestbury Park loving seven-year-old was unproven over three miles heading into this Grade 2 contest but held off the late challenge of the fast finishing Elegant Escape to prevail by three-quarters-of-a-length.

Bryony Frost’s ride was timed to perfection and connections are now contemplating the prospect of having a runner in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Obviously that would represent another huge step up the ladder. However I am a firm believer that every horse has a least one season where they are well and truly in their prime, and Frodon – who defied a mark of 164 in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup last month – appears to be enjoying that purple patch this term.

Joe Tizzard confirmed that the runner-up is still bound for the blue riband contest and he would certainly be a player should the ground turn up soft.

The Welsh Grand National hero is quickly developing into a carbon copy of his Gold Cup winning stablemate Native River. However, to compare the two at this stage of Elegant Escape’s career would be nothing short of bonkers and he will need to continue to progress in order to reach the same dizzy heights.

Terrefort made a satisfactory return to action following a spell on the sidelines and will come on plenty for the outing. Personally I would like to see him run again before Cheltenham, especially if the Gold Cup is still the plan.

3.00 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2m4f56y)

Frustratingly, we were robbed of a titanic tussle up the famous Cheltenham hill when Brewin’Upastorm, who was arguably travelling best of the front pair, came to grief at the final flight of hurdles.

Olly Murphy’s promising youngster led from flag fall and was gradually burning off his rivals one by one. Richard Johnson was yet to ask his mount for a proper effort and Murphy reported that he had “never seen a man as angry” as the champion jockey in the immediate aftermath of the race.

The Milan gelding attracted plenty of support before the off and could easily develop into a Cheltenham Festival contender if none the worse for his unfortunate mishap.

Birchdale was staying on powerfully behind Brewin’Upastorm and was only half a length down when gifted the race.

Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old did very little when left in the lead but may have simply been idling due to the lack of company. However, it does add weight to the theory that Brewin’Upastorm may have had his measure.

The JP McManus owned gelding looks every inch a chaser in the making and should come on plenty for Saturday’s experience. Barry Geraghty described him as a baby in his post-race interview and he may benefit from another outing before heading to the Cotswolds in March.

Buster Valentine ran a thoroughly respectable race and looks a nice horse for the future.

Ruth Jefferson’s five-year-old certainly wouldn’t be out of place in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. However, I would favour a trip to Aintree this spring given the manner in which he won his first two starts (under rules) on flat, left-handed, galloping tracks.

Jarvey’s Plate, who carried a 5lb penalty, didn’t appear to run his race and may be better judged in his New Year’s Day success over the same course and distance.

3.35 – Cleeve Hurdle (2m7f213y)

Paisley Park took another huge leap forward when running out a convincing winner of this Grade 2 prize.

Emma Lavelle’s seven-year-old is clearly improving at a rate of knots and dispelled the notion that he does not handle Cheltenham when scoring a decisive victory over the course and distance of the Stayers’ Hurdle, a race for which he is currently the 10/3 favourite.

Lil Rockerfeller and Sam Spinner ensured that the race was run at a true gallop and Paisley Park, who travelled in mid division for the majority of the contest, responded emphatically to Aiden Coleman’s urgings and soon shot clear to record a smart 12-lengths success.

Penhill won a Stayers’ Hurdle that better replicated the King’s Stand Stakes last season and connections of Paisley Park will be hoping that this year’s renewal is run at a proper gallop. Should that indeed be case, the progressive son of Oscar rates a very solid favourite based on Saturday’s performance.

Black Op could only finish third on his return to timber but could conceivably improve upon that effort next time out. I certainly wouldn’t write him off for the Stayers Hurdle just yet.

While West Approach, who briefly led between the last two hurdles, flattered to deceive once more.

It should also be noted that Midnight Shadow, who was the last horse to cross the line, was well held in seventh place over the final flight of hurdles but came to a virtual standstill when jumping into the back of Unowhatimeanharry, which explains why he was beaten such a distance. Connections may now look to the Champion Hurdle.

4.10 – Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle (2m179y)

This race undoubtedly played host to a number of very well handicapped young horses and I would not be surprised in the slightest if the form works out well.

Benny’s Bridge stayed on powerfully to land the spoils for Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan, and is most certainly a horse to monitor over the coming weeks and months. While runner-up Flash The Steel, who placed fourth behind the aforementioned Brewin’Upastorm at Huntingdon on debut, is also worth following with yet another solid piece of form in the book.

The third placed horse, namely Flashing Glance, was very strong in the betting and perhaps took up the running too soon. He is clearly well handicapped over hurdles at present and I am sure that Tom Lacey will find a suitable target for him in the not too distant future.

The Ante-Post Angle

As stated above, I believe that Brewin’Upastorm would have got the better of Birchdale but for his late and rather unfortunate exit and I therefore feel inclined to strike an ante-post wager for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the generous price of 14/1 (NRNB).

Olly Murphy’s hugely exciting six-year-old has proven that he handles the track – which is more than can be said for Champ and Battleoverdoyen who currently top the betting – and has already displayed the ability to handle varying types of ground, two factors that are always advantageous when striking an ante-post wager for the Cheltenham Festival.

He will have learned plenty from his first visit to the Cotswolds and it is highly likely that champion jockey Richard Johnson will ride the son of Milan once again in March, which is obviously a positive.

He can be backed at 14/1 NRNB with Sky Bet and I envisage him being half of that price on the day.


Brewin’Upastorm 14/1 NRNB with Sky Bet – 2pts each way

Band Of Outlaws held an entry in the opening Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle but didn’t feature amongst the entries on Friday morning. However, clearly connections have Cheltenham in mind and he could be a contender for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

The Joseph O’Brien trained four-year-old is rated 128 in Ireland and had Saturday’s runner-up Fine Brunello back in fourth when getting off the mark at Limerick on Boxing Day.

O’Brien has a wealth of depth in this division and the fact that Band Of Outlaws was considered good enough to be given an entry in Grade 2 company is a clear indication of the regard in which he is held at home.

Saturday’s impressive winner Fakir D’oudaries and the JP McManus owned Sir Erec currently head the betting for the Triumph Hurdle. Therefore Band Of Outlaws, who is yet to encounter better ground over hurdles but recorded two of his three Flat successes on good ground, may be allowed to take the handicap route, which looks a very attractive option given his lowly rating.


Band Of Outlaws 16/1 NRNB with Sky Bet – 2pts each way