Now sponsored by Betbright, Cheltenham’s Cotswold Chase (2.25, January 27) takes place at a trip of just over 25-furlongs. It is widely-regarded as a Cheltenham Gold Cup Trial, though you have to go all the way back to Looks Like Trouble in 2000 to find the last horse to win this race and go on and win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year. Other horses to complete the double include See More Business, Master Oats and Little Owl.
Two winners carried 11-10, four winners 11-6, one 11-4, and three 11-0
Five winners were aged 9, four 10, and one 8
No favourite has won in the last 10 years
Many Clouds was the shortest-priced winner in 2015 at 4/1
Knowhere (2008) and Taranis (2010) were the longest-priced winners at 16/1
Bristol De Mai
Earned a rating of 173 for his demolition job in the 2017 Betfair Chase, but the handicapper has quickly dropped him to a mark of 167 after failing to complete in the King George. Deserves to be favourite on his rating, and loves soft ground, but 7-year-olds and favourites haven’t won any of the last 10 renewals.
Stayed on well last time at Aintree in a race in which his opponents had questionable stamina, and perhaps better judged on his form at Wetherby prior to that, where Bristol De Mai gave him 2lb and a 23-length beating. Tough to turn that form around on 2lb worse terms.
Tea For Two
Perhaps unlucky to fall in last year’s Gold Cup, the second time he has failed to finish in two starts at Cheltenham, but proved his ability with a Grade 1 win at Aintree next time. Took a couple of runs to hit peak form this season, but plenty to like about his third in the King George last time, and stable going well.
Won 3 of his 12 starts at Cheltenham, placed in two others, but will probably need the first-time blinkers to bring about massive improvement as this is a big step-up in grade.
Gave 2lb and a nose beating to Perfect Candidate at Cheltenham last season, so should again finish in front of that one, though shouldn’t be troubling the judge.
Big flop in the Ladbrokes Trophy, but this smaller field may be to his liking, as should the soft ground. Doesn’t have that much to find on ratings either as he gets 4lb from the likes of Bristol De Mai and Tea For Two, but still has plenty to prove upped to this level of competition.
Won twice and been placed twice from five runs at Cheltenham, but a handicap mark of 145 suggests he should struggle if the top-rated runners run anywhere near their best.
The Last Samuri
18lb better off for 14-lengths with Definitely Red from when they met in March 2017 and, as that was his first run of the season then, and he’s run well twice already this season, he should reverse that form here. Officially second best in at the weights behind Bristol De Mai, and a line through Blaklion suggests there may not be much between them.
Perfect Candidate, Theatre Guide and Singlefarmpayment are the three with winning form at Cheltenham, but they shouldn’t be winning on ratings. Therefore, unless American proves to be top-class after flopping last time, this may well turn into a battle between Bristol De Mai and The Last Samuri. 7-year-old favourites don’t have a great record, so an each-way play on Last Samuri may be the way to go.