Cheltenham Trials Day is here, with an intriguing card on Saturday afternoon likely to offer some all-important clues towards the Festival in March. There’s also excellent action over the jumps at Doncaster and Fairyhouse on a busy day.
Nicky Henderson has a fine record in this Triumph Hurdle Trial, most recently landing the prize with Apple’s Shakira last year.
Another French import, Adjali, should be able to justify favouritism and take the bulk of prize money to Seven Barrows now. He had some fair winning form for Guillaume Macaire in France and was a decisive scorer on his British bow at Market Rasen in December.
Next time out, he gave best only to Quel Destin in a Chepstow Grade 1 and that form makes him the standout here despite conceding weight. With the yard in scintillating form (36% strike rate, 10-28 recently), Daryl Jacob’s mount is the one to beat in the opener.
The same connections are fancied in the Cotswold Chase as Terrefort bids for success in the two-tone green silks of owners Simon Munir & Isaac Souede. Another recruit from the Macaire barn in France, Terrefort was one of the most impressive novice chasers around last season, his only defeat being here behind Shattered Love in the JLT at the Festival.
He stepped up in trip at Aintree and dismissed Ms Parfois in the Mildmay in good style. His Sandown reappearance is best forgotten as he finished lame and, with doubts about the gutsy Frodon over this trip, he can get back on target now.
This is a decent renewal of the Cleeve Hurdle, at least in numbers with 12 going to post. Most in the line-up have questions to answer however.
Last year’s winner Agrapart may need the rain while Sam Spinner, Unowhatimeanharry, The Mighty Don and runner-up West Approach will have to turn things around with Long Walk Hurdle winner Paisley Park.
An improver in the staying hurdles division can so often make hay when the sun is shining and he fits the bill in seeking a fourth straight win this season for Emma Lavelle.
Lil Rockefeller, game as ever, and Black Op revert to hurdles having been chasing and, while the latter is a big danger on season’s form, a straight bat seems safest here in going with the form horse.
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