Weekend Watch: Festival Trials Day Talking Points

Cheltenham Trials Day – Marking Your Card

Cheltenham Trials Day kicks off at 12.15, and I think the Ben Pauling trained SEVERANCE could be the one to get us off to a flyer. He clearly doesn’t stay 2m5f, so the drop back to a strongly run 2m1f at a stiff track should be perfect for him with the yard finding a bit of form.

The following race on the card (12.45) is the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle trial which sees Irish raider Pied Piper lock horns with devastating Kempton scorer Iceo. However, the horse that may have been a bit overlooked is the course and distance winner from the December meeting, INTERNE DE SIVOLA. He is in deeper waters here, but it was an impressive performance last month, and the second and third from that race have since gone on to win, giving some substance to the form. He looks the value at 6/1.

YOUR DARLING (1.20) bolted up on Chase debut at Huntingdon last October, before being beaten twice on soft ground in good contests at Aintree and Kempton. Off 126 I think he still has the scope to improve, and should have underfoot conditions to suit with Kielan Woods in the saddle.

MIlton Harris is having a wonderful season, and JACAMAR (1.55) looks to have solid claims of following up his Kempton win in this encounter. The first-time cheekpieces really sparked his jumping to life at the Sunbury venue, in what was a quality contest. Off just 3lb higher, this unexposed sort can be a factor once again with Paddy Brennan taking the ride.

The Cotswold Chase (1.55) only has the five horses due to go to post, and this looks a golden opportunity for the Nicky Henderson trained CHANTRY HOUSE to get back in the winners enclosure. He flopped at Kempton in the King George, but this is a step down in class, and this Grade 1 winning Cheltenham Festival chaser can bounce back with the headgear going on for the first time.

All eyes will be on Champ in the Cleeve Hurdle at 3.05, but I am not sure he has this quite as sewn-up as the market suggests. Paisley Park may struggle as the clock continues to tick, but MCFABULOUS will love the drying ground at Prestbury Park, and should come on a bundle for his comeback effort at the track on New Year’s Day. With the younger, fresher legs, he can really serve it up to the pair of 10-year-olds.

I think BALCO COASTAL can get the better of Hillcrest in a fascinating encounter at 3.40. His stablemate I Am Maximus was runner-up to the Henry Daly horse on New Year’s Day, but with livelier ground this time around, I think Hillcrest could be vulnerable to something with a bit of dash and Balco Coastal, moving up in trip, fits the bill.

The concluding Mares’ Bumper is one I am happy to sit out, good luck!


12.15 Severance e/w 12/1 (Hills)
12.45 Interne De Sivola 6/1 (Paddy Power)
1.20 Your Darling 6/1 (generally)
1.55 Jacamar e/w 12/1 (Ladbrokes)
2.30 Chantry House 10/11 (Ladbrokes)
3.05 McFabulous 4/1 (generally)
3.40 Balco Coastal 7/4 (Bet365)