The last racing at Cheltenham before the Festival takes place tomorrow with Festival Trials Day and we are likely to get plenty of clues ahead of March.
As is customary at the Gloucestershire track, the action is very competitive and finding a winner will be tricky, but we’ll give it a good shot!
Here are the thoughts and best bets to look out for from our horse racing expert
Trophy Handicap Chase (1.50pm)
Perhaps surprisingly, my first bet comes in the hugely competitive handicap chase, where I’m pretty sweet on the chances of Janika for Nicky Henderson. The six-year-old was progressive in France winning on his final three starts before joining the Henderson yard ahead of the 2018/19 season.
He was well-backed on debut at Ascot and put up a pretty impressive performance in second. He’d been off the track for over 250 days prior to that and while he was well-beaten by Hell’s Kitchen, he was 11 lengths clear of the second. The mount of Daryl Jacob should be strip even fitter this time around and looks poised for another big performance at 4/1 with Grosvenorsport.com.
It looks a pretty open renewal it must be added, with a number of the runners looking to have solid claims. Siruh Du Lac is seeking a three-timer and even though he’s up in grade and in the weights, he’s going the right way and can’t be discounted.
Brelan D’As and The Kings Writ are both progressive too, but I just think Janika might be a bit too good for these and his mark of 150 could still well within his capabilities.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (3.00pm)
Henderson saddles another likely favourite here in the shape of the unbeaten Birchdale. He did things very easily on his UK debut when winning by four lengths at Warwick and there is bound to be plenty more to come. He’s plenty short enough though at 15/8 for a horse so inexperienced and instead I’m going to take him on with Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm.
The six-year-old will be having just the sixth start of his life, but he’s been progressive in his short career and his trainer has often spoke of how good he thinks he could be. He didn’t really get the run of the race last time in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury, but ran on well at the finish and he looks the type who will keep improving.
Birchdale might be pretty smart, but I’d much prefer to take the 9/4 about Brewin’upastorm than the 15/8 about him and Murphy’s runner is fancied to get his head in front for the third time in the UK.
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