Trials day at Cheltenham

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A near miss last weekend when CAPTAIN REDBEARD just found one too good at Haydock. A second consecutive near miss for one of my in-depth analysis runners – hopefully this week will see a winner or two. Trials day at Cheltenham gives us another chance to see some key horses leading up to the festival in March. It’s backed up with a good meeting at Doncaster.

Sky Bet Chase 3:15 Doncaster

A cracking handicap chase won the last twice by the horse in the photo, ZIGA BOY. As always it’s a competitive affair and there are a few key stats to consider as well as the form. Every single winner of this chase in recent times has previously won going left-handed. A key trend that one of my fancies WARRIORS TALE doesn’t meet. Despite his smart form behind GOLD PRESENT earlier on, this has to be a big negative. However, trends are to be broken and he could run a cracking race. The past few winners of this have had relatively low Official Ratings too. Not many winners had an OR of above OR139 and generally they carry a weight lighter than 11st 2lbs. These stats start to take out a few of these, including the well fancied favourite L’AMI SERGE. He is a worthy favourite na has a touch of class so could defy all these trends and destroy the field, but he has never filled me with confidence and seems to chuck the towel in. COOLOGUE has been runner up in this before and he is on a very attractive mark but I’m not sure the ground will be good enough to bring out his best traits. One who meets the majority of the trends AND has some consistent form is THUMB STONE BLUES, he is progressive and runs here off a feather weight. He has been placed behind DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR, SAM RED and THE TOURAD MAN earlier on. His only fail on the trends is not winning over 3 miles, but all of these places were over that distance. He was second to DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR off 11st 10lbs and despite this being a better race he runs with a huge 2stone an 2lbs less on his back. That will really help over this trip. L’AMI SERGE could destroy them all but is no value, so I’m going for this lad.

SELECTION : Thumb Stone Blues 10-1 Paddy Power

Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase 2:25 Cheltenham

A Gold Cup trial but only LOOKS LIKE TROUBLE has gone on to win the big one after winning this. A key stat here is that the favourite hasn’t won the last 10 runnings of this. Bad news for BRISTOL DE MAI.

The favourite also loses out on a few trends such as weight and age but that is down to his class and you have to discount those. He is a very smart horse and the rain has improved his chances. If he is to be a Gold Cup contender he has to win today. Another concern I have for him is that he has never won here, only placed behind BLACK HERCULES at the festival a couple of years ago. He is the worthy favourite though and a repeat of his Betfair Chase run will be hard to pin him back. AMERICAN was no doubt a smart novice but I feel he hasn’t enough experience for this and he has to show he retains his ability after a poor show last time. TEA FOR TWO ran a belter in the King George last time and looked much more like himself. He meets a lot of the trends for this race and he consistently runs well. I think he could run the favourite close today and am opting for him for more value than the favourite.

SELECTION : Tea For Two 9-1 Paddy Power

I also fancy the chances of WAR SOUND 1:15 Cheltenham who has been ultra consistent and the step up in trip could bring out the improvement needed to finally win. O O SEVEN is a horse I know has a big handicap like this in him. I think the softer ground may actually suit him here today. He is still on a high mark but I think he could creep into this. He ran a belter behind GOLD PRESENT last time and would have been closer if he didn’t belt the second last. Finally, COLIN’S SISTER is much better than she showed last time and I’m expecting her to run better in the Cleeve.

Good luck all.

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