Cheltenham Festival Trials Day Tips: Check out our best bets for Saturday's bumper card
There's a bumper nine race card at Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon, as they host a sparkling Festival Trials Day card which will not only see the likes of the Cotswold Chase provide Cheltenham Gold Cup clues, but the rearranged Clarence House Chase will see star chase Energumene line-up. Our man Steve Chambers takes a look at a stunning day's racing and picks out his best bets on the card...
12:40 Cheltenham - Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase
Gordon Elliott's DELTA WORK is a red-hot favourite for the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but he will face a different test on Saturday as he looks to give lumps of weight away in a notable trial for the race, but unlike the race at the festival the contest on Trials Day is a handicap event.
However, while he will have to carry top weight alongside former Grand National hero Minella Times, Delta Work could prove to still be a huge cut above his rivals. He showed when winning the Cross Country at the festival last season that he was a real class act as he outbattled Tiger Roll, and while Elliott won't have him fully tuned up for this with the main priority back here in March, Delta Work should just be too good for his opposition.
Snow Leopardess is a fascinating runner for Charlie Longsdon, but the dashing grey could face a tough assignment on a first go round this unique test, while former Cheltenham winner Diesel D'Allier is another of note, but may struggle off a mark of 140 to deliver.
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13:50 Cheltenham - Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase
A brace of fourth placed finishes at Cheltenham this season has seen the Paul Nicholls-trained IL RIDOTO become a consistent performer in hugely competitive handicap chases at the home of Jumps racing, but the Ditcheat raider can finally get his head in front on Saturday when he lines up in the 13:50.
He chased home the classy Midnight River in a similar race on New Year's Day, but that raider doesn't take his chance here and the handicapper has given Il Ridoto a chance by dropping him 1lb, so he runs off a mark of 138 here, which looks extremely attractive if he can produce his best.
Brave Seasca, Your Darling and Fugitif all sit prominently in the betting and are entitled to give Il Ridoto something to think about, but it's the time for the Nicholls raider to sparkle on the biggest stage of all and he can land glory here.
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14:25 Cheltenham - Paddy Power Cotswold Chase
There's an enthralling Cheltenham Gold Cup trial at 14:25 as the best of British line up for the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase and reigning Grand National hero Noble Yeats and the classy Protektorat dominate the betting for the event, but they will face some notable opposition in a thrilling renewal.
The former Ryanair Chase hero Frodon will be one of those looking to have another day in the limelight around the undulations of the Gloucestershire track, but the one to side with Lucinda Russell's AHOY SENOR, who has been very disappointing this season, but a return to Cheltenham could see this stayer bounce back to winning ways.
Second to L'Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at last season's Cheltenham Festival, Ahoy Senor was last seen finishing a mediocre fifth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, while previously he was dispatched with aplomb by Noble Yeats at Aintree, but a return to a stiffer track could see him flourish, He showed last year at the festival that he sees out three miles well at Cheltenham, and while the likes of Protektorat and Frodon have potential stamina worries, Ahoy Senor will be doing all his best work at the finish and he could just get the better of Noble Yeats, who makes his second trip to Cheltenham (ninth in 2022 Ultima).
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15:00 Cheltenham - Dahlbury Stallions At Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle
Emma Lavelle's Paisley Park will attempt to notch up a record-breaking fourth victory in the Cleeve Hurdle on Saturday afternoon and the legendary 11-year-old, who will be look to cement his place in the 2023 Stayers' Hurdle, is a red-hot favourite to claim victory once again. Last seen bounding to victory in the Long Walk Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, the gutsy performer is sure to run a huge race, as he always does at Cheltenham, but at short odds you have to look elsewhere.
Paul Nicholls has elected to revert Gelino Bello back to hurdles and the Grade 1-winning novice hurdler has to be respected, but Jeremy Scott's DASHEL DRASHER looks the best bet of the race, as he was last seen running a cracker behind Marie's Rock in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham. Stepping up to three miles here is sure to suit, and he showed his versatility when chasing home Noble Yeats in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree earlier in the season, and the hugely consistent performer can finally have his day in the sun.
He struggled to quicken with Marie's Rock in the Relkeel, but there's sure to be nothing with that sort of turn of foot here, and having shown he can sparkle at the track he could well just get away from Paisley Park coming down the hill and can then maintain the lead over a likely staying-on Paisley Park in another cracking event.