Cheltenham Trials Day 2019 - Getting Ready For the Festival Action

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Excitement is beginning to grow as we approach the end of what’s always a painfully long January. Bank accounts shrunk during December as waistlines grew, forcing the majority of UK citizens to regroup during the opening five weeks of the year.

Thankfully, there was no lack of sports action on the schedule to hold our interest. The end of January is marked down as a particularly important time in the diaries of horse racing followers with the Cheltenham trials giving us an invaluable insight into how horses, jockeys and trainers are shaping up ahead of the world-famous Prestbury Park showdown in March.

Those who enjoy a punt on the sport of kings know the curtain doesn’t go up on the 2019 Cheltenham Festival until Tuesday 12 March, but experience also tells them the hard work starts now if they are to win an important battle in the on-going war with bookmakers.

Cheltenham trials day is vitally important to those who is getting ready for the Cheltehnam 2019 betting action and, run on Saturday 26 January, this year’s renewal threw up the usual mix of education and surprise, a few fancied runners failing to impress while a selection of those written off forced traders into a rethink.

Let’s take a look at the results of note on trials day and how that has affected the ante-post festival markets…

JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle

Cheltenham trials day hosted seven competitive races with the first setting off at 12.40pm. The JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle is a Grade 2 race run over two miles on the good to soft ground that was expected, and we had nine runners making up the final field. With over £18,000 promised to the winner some of the sport’s most famous names were in attendance, including Nicky Henderson, Dan Skelton and Jonjo O’Neill.

They were all shown up by star trainer Joseph O’Brien, however, who signalled his intent for the year ahead by landing first and second in the race. Henderson’s Adjali went off a short price favourite but was undone by Fakir D’Oudairies who showed his rivals the way home when carrying a handy 4/1 price tag, finishing 13 lengths clear of the chasing pack.

Another from the O’Brien yard took the silver medal with Fine Brunello performing above expectations under the ride of Barry Geraghty, landing each-way backers a return when bagging the silver medal at an SP 25/1, a strong finish forcing spectators to scribble down the name in their notepads as one to keep an eye on.

The ante-post betting for the JCB Triumph Juvenile Hurdle, run on the Friday, now has Fakir D’Oudairies as favourite, with backers who were impressed by the trial able to back him at as big as 6/1. At the time of writing, Sir Erec is rated as the main danger and is a market best price 8/1, while Tiger Tap Tap will get you 14/1 if going on to win the Triumph Hurdle. Others worth a mention are Quel Destin 16/1, Carlo Biraghi 16/1 and Adjali, the latter eased to 25/1.

BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase

The other main trial of the day was the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase – a practice for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Starting at 2.25pm, this year’s renewal brought together a six-runner field headed by 2/1 favourite Elegant Escape for Colin Tizzard. The market leader attracted plenty of support in the build-up, but it proved to be misplaced trust and at the conclusion of the 3m 1f Grade 2 contest we were handed a surprise winner.

Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost teamed up on 9/4 poke Frodon and that proved to be the smart call with the talented seven-year-old gelding taking his form to three wins and a second from his last four goes. He was spotted claiming the Grade 3 Gold Cup Handicap Chase at this venue over 2m 4f and that proved to be a handy indicator, the improver repeating the feat over the extended trip.

There was 3/4 lengths between first and second that day with Terrefort making up the major places at 4/1 when finishing third, a further 2 ¼ lengths behind. The victor’s jumping was a joy to behold and he was seen stretching them to the line before a three-length lead was clipped on the run-in. That may worry a few but Frodon gave his usual game finish and crossed the line an impressive winner of the £56,000 prize money.

The ante-post betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup has Frodon as a 33/1 supposed no hoper, market best price, but many firms have the same result much tighter, 14/1 the call. That’s quite a difference and value hunters will make it a bet worth having, especially on the back of the trial.

More likely winners of the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup, according to bookies, are Presenting Percy who’s a 3/1 fav, ahead of Native River at 11/2, Clan Des Obeaux 10/1, Kemboy 10/1 and Road To Respect at 12/1. After a bigger priced runner? Might Bite will be difficult to ignore at 20/1.

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