Weekend Racing Blog: Bristol De Mai Heads Star Studded Line-Up

Bristol De Mai Looks Best Bet in Sandown’s Cotswold Chase

Two major jumps races have been rescheduled for Saturday from the abandoned Cheltenham Trials Day. Sandown stages the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase (2.20pm) while the Cleeve Hurdle takes place at Wetherby at 1.58pm

Paisley Park is not making the trip to Yorkshire from Emma Lavelle’s base in Wiltshire for the Stayers’ Hurdle trial but Nicky Henderson’s Santini has again been entered for this Cheltenham Gold Cup prep race.

Santini (5/2 with bet365*) was a running-on second in the Gold Cup last March. The nine-old was just held by a neck by Al Boum Photo, who was winning a second Gold Cup in two years. Santini had some bad luck in running that day so in theory was the best horse in the race.

Despite Bristol De Mai being well beaten in ninth place in the Gold Cup he’s the bookies favourite for the Cotswold Chase at a top-priced 9/4 with bet365*. Making up the rest of this 6-runner affair is former Gold Cup winner Native River at 9/2, Saint Calvados at 5/1, Yala Enki at 8/1 and Lake View Lad at 16/1.

Cotswold Chase Betting Tip

The Gold Cup runner-up Santini won this race last season, with Bristol De Mai three and a half lengths adrift in second place but carrying two pounds more. Both horses run of 11st 6lb in this re-routed Sandown race so in theory Santini has a bit in hand.

However, that advantage would have been more significant last weekend at Cheltenham where Bristol de Mai has been unable to win in six starts.

The Alan King-trained grey horse is more suited to the flat tracks, especially Haydock Park. Sandown does have some undulations but its configuration is more akin to Haydock than Cheltenham.

Santini was tipped last week to win the Cotswold Chase at the home of the jumps. However, running the race at Sandown makes me think Bristol De Mai could be the horse to follow this time.

Cleeve Hurdle Looks Good Opening for On The Blind Side

The rearranged Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle (1.58pm, Wetherby, Sat) has lost a major runner in the absence of Paisley Park. The winner of the race in the last two years had a clear Official Rating edge over the second favourite, Itchy Feet.

Paisley Park was fancied to complete a hat trick of wins but now goes straight to Cheltenham. The 2019 winner is the current 10/3 ante post favourite with bet365* for the 2021 Stayers’ Hurdle.

Cleeve Hurdle Betting Tip

The final declarations for Wetherby’s version of the Cleeve Hurdle have just been announced. On The Blind Side is the 3/1 fav with bet365* with Itchy Feet, the highest rated horse in the field, the 4/1* second favourite.

On The Blind Side and Main Fact (11/2 bet365*) are very closely matched on the form figures. Main Fact could be vulnerable though, despite winning nine races in nine starts over 10 months last year. He was well beaten by Paisley Park in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.

However, On The Blind Side is improving horse and runs on the back of a staying on-win over almost three miles at Market Rasen last month. That effort suggests he can justify favouritism in the Cleeve Hurdle and will be my betting tip in this one.

Hitman Can Win Grade 1 Novices’ Chase

There are four Grade 1 races on the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown this Saturday.

The Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park is the only jumps race at the highest level in England. Seven horses have been declared to run in the two miles and four furlongs contest for horses aged five and older which is young for a chaser.

Shan Blue and Messire Des Obeaux are the joint top-rated on official figures and first and third in the betting. The second favourite, Hitman (3/1 with bet365*), could still have the best form. Finishing two and a half lengths behind Allmankind at Sandown in December marks the horse down as the one with most potential.

And Finally..

The Dublin Racing Festival takes place this weekend (6th-7th February) and always has some key races when it comes to early Cheltenham betting but Festival Trials’ Day is a poor imitation and could benefit from the introduction of more races that have a bearing on the jumps meeting that matters most in March.

* Horse racing betting odds quoted correct at the time of writing. All odds are subject to change.