Plenty of Clues to Be Gleaned From Trials Day at Cheltenham
The atmosphere went from elation to subdued at Prestbury Park on Saturday afternoon when the Trials Day produced a finish to match most finishes of the Cheltenham Festival as the popular Grand National winner Many Clouds outstayed chasing’s latest superstar Thistlecrack to win the Cotswold Chase. Unfortunately Oliver Sherwood’s stable star paid the ultimate price for his herculean effort shortly after passing the post.
While the loss of that much-loved chaser put a dampener on the day for most there was plenty to get excited about and many of the performances are sure to have a significant bearing on events at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival, especially the impressive victory of Unowhatimeanharry, clear favourite at a best price 7-4 with Betstars for the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.
The son of Sir Harry Lewis has come a long way since winning a Cheltenham handicap off a mark of just 123 in November 2015, a massive 44lb less than the nine-year-old is now rated. A cosy length and three quarters victory over previous World Hurdle winner Cole Harden sets the standard in the staying hurdle division and looks like providing owner JP McManus with yet another win in the championship contest following Baracouda in 2002/2003 and more recently More Of That in 2014.
Triumph Hurdle favourite Defi Du Seuil ( standout 9-2 with Bet365 ) hardly broke sweat in seeing off his three rivals in the Grade 2 opening Trial while Un De Sceaux cemented his claims as the most likely winner of the Ryanair when running out an easy winner of the rescheduled Clarence House Chase. The Willie Mullins-trained gelding is now a top price 7-2 with Betfair Sportsbook for that 2m 5f race, although soft ground could see him challenge stablemate Douvan in the Champion Chase.
After recording a three length victory over chief market rival William Henry in the Neptune Investment Management Classic Novices’ Hurdle Wholestone finds himself joint second favourite with West Approach at 7-1 for the Albert Bartlett behind 5-2 ( Skybet and Betfred ) market leader Death Duty.
Despite being beaten three lengths by French challenger Urgent De Gregaine in the cross country race Cantlow, who will meet the winner on 18lb better terms at the festival, did his prospects no harm in finishing an honourable second making the 11-4 available with most bookmakers very tempting.