The Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase (14:15 Sat 28th January) has been the major trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup for over 30-years, though Looks Like Trouble in the year 2000 was the last horse to achieve the double in the same year. However, interestingly, Gold Cup ante-post favourite Thistlecrack lines-up this year.
This grade-2 chase is run over 3-miles and 1½-furlongs, about a furlong shorter than the Gold Cup trip, and horses must carry a variety of penalties dependent on previous successes. Top-weight is 11-10, though only Many Clouds in 2015 is the only horse to have carried the maximum penalty to victory in the last decade. Meanwhile, winners in that time have been aged 7 to 10, with 9-year-olds being responsible for 5 of those 10 winners. Paul Nicholls is the only trainer to have won the race twice in the last decade, and has won it 4 times since 1998.
7-Runners are set to go to post for the 2017 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase.
Oliver Sherwood’s 2015 Grand National winner is the only horse to have carried 11-10 to victory in the last 10 years, and he conceded 8lb to Smad Place when doing so. However, that rival took his revenge last year, despite being 4lb worse off. They race off level-weights this year.
Ran his best race for some time in this season’s King George, but his performances at Kempton have usually been better than at Cheltenham, where is 0 from 4. However, he was only run out of the frame in the 2014 Gold Cup in the final 100-yards, and this furlong shorter trip offers some hope.
Came into last year’s race in better form, but has faced two tough tasks this year in handicap scarrying top-weight against useful rivals. Stable been in good form all season, and another re-match with Many Clouds is interesting with the score at 1-1. However, he has 8lb to find with Thistlecrack on ratings, and the likely favourite still has room for improvement.
Useful French-based chaser, but he is rated 16lb lower than Thistlecrack, and was last seen finishing 28-lengths behind that one’s stablemate Cue Card at Haydock in the Betfair Chase.
Yet to tackle this sort of distance over fences, but was pulled-up in the Albert Bartlett over 3-miles over hurdles. Also only fifth here in a handicap chase, but still interesting as one of the only two runners this year who doesn’t have to carry 11-10. However, the 4lb difference still leaves him with 11lb to find with Thistlecrack.
Most of his best performances have come here at Cheltenham over a similar distance but, though he gets 6lb from the top-5 horses, he probably lacks the class to make the jump from 150-rated handicapper to grade-2 winner.
BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase Preview
Thistlecrack seems to have the chasing world at his feet, and it will be a major disappointment if he doesn’t win this and go on to challenge for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Those looking for value will point to the fact that he probably put-up his worst jumping performance here, and he must shoulder the top burden of 11-10. However, I’s much sooner try and pick the forecast, and last year’s winner Smad Place is fancied to follow him home.
BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase Tip
Straight Forecast: Thistlecrack To Beat Smad Place