Cheltenham Trials Day: Wholestone Could Smash Rivals6 min read
The Cotswold Chase is the feature race on Trials day this afternoon and Bristol De Mai will be a different proposition back on a left-hand track having looked all at sea around Kempton last time. The grey had been very impressive in winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock previously and is a worthy 5/4 favourite but the outsider of the whole field Singlefarmpayment (2.25) is the each way recommendation at 33/1.
The selection was another who failed to appreciate going right-handed in a big handicap at Ascot last time and he had previously fell three out in the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup) at Newbury in another race where things did not go to plan. The handicapper suggests he cannot win but he loves Cheltenham and would have won on this corresponding card 12 months ago had he not been brought down in the novices’ handicap chase.
A less speculative selection is Coo Star Sivola (1.50) in the extended two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase. The selection jumped well when finishing runner up in a decent Novices’ Chase here six weeks ago and is rated 5lbs higher over hurdles. Taking jockey Lizzie Kelly’s 3lbs claim into consideration the selection will carry just 10st 4lbs and must go close if getting the luck you need in a 14-runner handicap.
The mare Theatre Territory is lurking at the foot of the weights in the novices’ handicap chase and would have been given the nod on better ground for the Waley-Cohens. Conditions are currently described as soft, however, and further rain is forecast for Saturday morning.
War Sound will appreciate the step up to this 2m 4f trip for Philip Hobbs and if his jumping passes the test he will be hard to beat – but that is a big if. Full Irish (1.15) travelled well but did not get home in a real war of attrition at Haydock over three miles last time and he gets the vote in his first-time tongue-tie for Emma Lavelle.
There won’t be a dry eye in the house if Beer Goggles wins the Cleeve Hurdle given his trainer Richard Woolacott lost his battle with mental illness earlier in the week. His wife Kayley will saddle the stable star and at 6/1 with Richard Johnson in the plate, he will be a hard nut to crack. The vote, however, goes to Wholestone (3.35) who can follow up an impressive win here at the beginning of the month. Agrapart will appreciate the additional half mile today in what could be a very big day for Lizzie Kelly and favourite Finian’s Oscar might be the class act in the field but will he relish a severe test of stamina on soft ground?
We now know Dino Velvet does not stay two-and-a-half miles, having travelled well but failed to get home in the Lanzarote last time. It wouldn’t surprise me if Alan King’s five-year-old goes very well dropped back to the minimum trip in the finale, but my two against the field are Our Merlin and Clondaw Castle (4.10) with marginal preference for the latter trained by Tom George although a 5lbs rise for a win in a weak Kelso contest tempers confidence.
Coo Star Sivola
The Skybet Chase is the big race this afternoon and on decent ground, I would be very keen on the chances of Long House Hall who returns from a 560-day absence for the Skeltons. L’Ami Serge has the considerable assistance of Davy Russell and looks to be on a very fair mark reverting to fences but at 3/1 he is reluctantly overlooked and the each way selection is Pilgrims Bay (3.15).
The selection ran a very good race at Kempton last time looks to be still on a fair mark. The selection has his quirks and does not find much off the bridle, but he goes well for James Best and he looks sure to run a big race.
Reverent Crust (1.10) can defy a 7lbs rise having finished runner up at Haydock last time when jockey Finian O’Toole may have played his hand just a shade too late.
Burrenbridge Hotel has been raised 11lbs for scoring at Taunton last time under Sam Twiston-Davies who partners the consistent but frustrating Beau Bay (1.40) who gets further but should have the race run to suit.