Punters were hoping the Cheltenham Trials Day would bring answers to questions around many of the top races at the Cheltenham Festival, but it perhaps only brought further questions. Big name runners were beaten on the day, a wild afternoon of racing, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if you were left scratching your head after that.
Energumene Looks Uncomfortable in Cheltenham Defeat
The afternoon began with Delta Work finishing third in the Cross Country race, a small upset, but given that the talk before the race was all around him not quite being fit enough for this one, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. He will certainly arrive in better shape in March, when he looks to defend his Cross Country Chase title.
A bigger surprise came next, with both Energumene and Edwardstone beaten by Editeur Du Gite in the rearranged Clarence House Chase. Both horses are towards the head of the market for the Champion Chase, with Energumene obviously the bigger name, but neither could win this, and Energumene finished almost seven lengths behind the front two, after not really looking comfortable for the entire race.
The betting market has seen a change, with both Energumene and Edwardstone available at around the 2/1 mark.
Gold Cup Picture Still Unclear
The Cotswold Chase came later in the day, a Gold Cup trial, though over a slightly shorter distance than the March showpiece. Anyone looking for answers here have certainly not received any. Protektorat was sent off as the 5/4 favourite, but could only finish fourth in the race, not really enhancing his Gold Cup credentials.
One place ahead in third place was Noble Yeats, winner of the 2022 Grand National. You can argue that he gave the best trial performance he could have here, a strong stayer, this small field and the shorter distance left him out paced at one point, but he did stay on, albeit not really challenging the front two with any kind of meaningful run.
Ahoy Senor was the winner of the race, cut dramatically for the Gold Cup on the back of that, but still a double figure price at 14/1 with Unibet.
Paisley Park Runs Third in Stayers Hurdle Trial
Fan favourite Paisley Park was another in action at the meeting but he could only finish third in the Stayers Hurdle Trial. He was sent off as the 13/8 favourite, but after that defeat, his odds for the big one in March are now much bigger, a best price of 20/1 with Paddy Power.
Gold Tweet, the winner of that race, isn’t in the Stayers Hurdle right now, but should he come over, he’s currently around 8/1 to back up his win on Saturday.