- Trials day at Cheltenham has thrown up 28 Festival winners in 10 years
- Burdett Road and Sir Gino will go head-to-head in a hotly anticipated opener
- Cobden is confident in Burdett Road’s prospects as ‘best juvenile’ he’s ridden
After the freeze comes the frenzy. From last Saturday’s all-weather diet to today’s jumping feast, a breathless day’s racing ahead at Cheltenham. Never mind the Festival — this is four days of brilliance condensed into four mesmerising hours. Sit tight.
Trials Day at Cheltenham has thrown up 28 Festival winners in 10 years, so keep your eyes peeled. We might see the Triumph Hurdle winner in the opener, where Burdett Road and Sir Gino — first and second in the antepost betting — go head-to-head.
For years, we’ve bemoaned our decent Flat horses being sold to run abroad but owner Tim Gredley is bucking that trend and having a real go with a few high-class performers from the level. Burdett Road won at Royal Ascot last June but he has been gazelle-like over hurdles.
He’s a little pocket rocket — Harry Cobden says he’s the best juvenile he’s ever ridden — but Burdett Road will feel like Calvin Smith did against Carl Lewis when he starts trotting behind Sir Gino in the paddock. Sir Gino is a stunner and the Seven Barrows team think the world of him.
A horse who I think the world of runs later on the card. Stay Away Fay will forever be on my good list after the massive favour he did me when winning the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at last year’s Festival at 18-1; I’d go as far to say as he’s my favourite horse in training.
It’s set to be an action packed meeting at Cheltenham this weekend, with Burdett Road, here pictured being ridden by Harry Cobden in action
Harry Cobden described Burdett Road as a pocket rocket and is the best juvenile he’s ever ridden
Cobden is pictured riding Burdett Road scramble over the last to win the Juvenile Hurdle at Huntingdon Racecourse
I’m convinced he will become a Gold Cup contender one day and Paul Nicholls is pitching him in early against the big boys, such as Betfair Chase hero Royale Pagaille and last year’s winner Ahoy Senor, in the Cotswold Chase (1.50).
No novice has won this race since the Berlin Wall came down (1989). We still don’t know just good Stay Away Fay is and he might well be capable of making a bit of history. Nicholls and Cobden could be in for a stellar day at Cheltenham and what a chance they have in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (12.40).
They won it 12 months ago with Stage Star, and Ginny’s Destiny has a right chance of following up. Nicholls made no secret of just how fat the horse was when he first came to him and he remains open to plenty of improvement.
He was lucky to beat Grey Dawning here last time but that still looks impressive form. This is always a race to watch back over and over again. Last year a Turners Novices’ Chase winner beat a Coral Gold Cup winner, Datsalrightgino.
The day is so good I’ve yet to mention 12-year-old Paisley Park, who runs in the Cleeve Hurdle (3.35) but what could really be billed as the best veterans’ race of all time.
Champ (12) and Dashel Drasher (11) will have their supporters but nothing would match Paisley Park charging up the hill and winning the Cleeve for a fourth time. It could hasten Cheltenham’s need for a new stand.
Dangers abound, though. Many will assume Noble Yeats is just having a spin as a prep for his bid to regain his Grand National title. If that was the case, why has Emmet Mullins booked Cobden, the best in the business?
My heart firmly says Paisley Park. My head says Noble Yeats could surprise a few people.
I wrote in this column weeks ago about my wish for Premier Racing was a push to get the basics right and improve the racegoer’s experience. ‘Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.’
Burdett Road will come up against Sir Gino, here ridden by Nico de Boinville, in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham
Stay Away Fay will also race in the Cotswold Chase later on during the day and is one runner to keep an eye on
Cobden won the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase with Stage Star last year
So I’m delighted to see the spotlight being shone on race start times and just how lax we have become in this country (via a well-researched piece by Andrew Dietz in the Racing Post).
I’m fully aware half a tonne of unpredictable animal will cause delays at times. But there’s also so much more we can do, which will improve the viewer and racegoer’s experience. I’ve noticed improvements in the last few weeks and we seem to be going in the right direction. At Lingfield last weekend the horses were even in the paddock in good time and in racecard order.
More of the same today please.
Ed Chamberlin is a Sky Bet UK Ambassador