Author: Alan Kelly
Cheltenham Festival Trials Day
Published: 13:32 23/01/2015
10 Horses have been declared for tomorrow's freebets.com Trophy Chase at Cheltenham with the 2m5f handicap carrying a £50k bonus should the winner go on to land any race at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The final field is headed by the Alan Jones-trained Quincy Des Pictons and below is a guide to the chances of those competing for the first prize in the £50k contest due to be run at 2.25pm:-
1. QUINCY DES PICTONS - Will need do defy a career-high mark to win hear and the handicapper may have over-reacted in putting the eleven-year-old up 13lb for winning at Chepstow last month. The Kadalko gelding will handle the ground but it will be a big surprise if the Alan Jones-trained gelding can follow up in this Grade 3 contest.
2. DARE ME - Dangerous to dismiss anything trained by Venetia Williams in this type of race but the eleven-year-old looks in the grip of the handicapper at the moment ( 18lb higher than when winning at Warwick 12 month's ago ) and with both wins over fences coming over the minimum trip may struggle over the extra 5f on soft ground.
3. ANNACOTTY - Grade 1 winner of Kempton's Kauto Star Novices' Chase ( Feltham ) 13 month's ago was followed by a respectable second off tomorrow's mark in the novices' handicap on this card last year. Out of depth in RSA Chase at the Festival and despite a couple of moderate runs this season is capable of bouncing back in this company.
4. WALKON - Runner up in 2009 Triumph Hurdle and plenty of decent chase form including when finding only Al Ferof too good in the 2012 Paddy Power Gold Cup. Form has deteriorated since finishing second in the 2013 Topham and no encouragement on seasonal reappearance when last of four in a Graduation Chase at Newbury. Best left alone at present as the grey looks a shadow of former days.
5. EASTER METEOR - Only moderate form since joining David Pipe from Emma Lavelle but is on the same mark as when finishing a good second to Cantlow in a valuable Newbury handicap in November 2013. A reproduction of that form would see the son of Midnight Legend go close with conditions likely to suit but questions to answer at the moment.
6. EASTER DAY - Favourite to win Doncaster's Skybet Chase and unlikely to run here unless the weather intervenes at the Yorkshire venue. If allowed to take his chance looks sure to take plenty of beating on final two runs last season, the last being a two and a quarter length victory over subsequent RSA winner O'Faolains Boy at Ascot. A mark of 142 looks anything but harsh and despite finishing only third of four on his seasonal reappearance last month when clearly in need of the run the seven-year-old will strip fitter tomorrow and is the one to beat if turning up.
7. SEW ON TARGET - A bit of a course specialist with several creditable efforts in similar contests including towards the end of 2013 with three top four finishes, two of those behind decent horses in Johns Spirit and Double Ross. Fourth in this race last year but runs off a 12lb higher mark this time after last month's comfortable victory on the course and may be in the grip of the handicapper at present.
8. LITTLE JON - In and out form in novice chases but obviously possesses plenty of ability. Made a good start over fences beginning with a victory over Solar Impulse at Newton Abbot in October and followed that up with a close third behind two good novices in Dunraven Storm and Vibrato Valtat at Cheltenham. Has failed to complete the course in two visits to Prestbury Park since but dangerous to write off with mark of 140 possibly on the lenient side.
9. BIG FELLA THANKS - A standing dish over the big Aintree fences, the thirteen-year-old is now a shadow of the horse who finished fourth in the 2010 Grand National and even allowing for the fact he will be racing off his lowest ever chase mark hard to envisage a revival in the twilight of a long career.
10. TAP NIGHT - Form over both fences and hurdles has been bitterly disappointing recently for a horse who looked potentially top class as a novice ( second in an Aintree Grade 1 in April 2013 ) and now 23lb lower than when runner up to Rajdhani Express two seasons ago. Third in this race 12 months ago and would be a good thing at the weights if able to produce anything like that form.