Festival Trials Day takes place at Cheltenham on Saturday 28th January, and offers racegoers the final opportunity to experience racing at the Home of Jump Racing before The Festival (Tuesday 14th March to Friday 17th March inclusive).
A terrific eight-race programme on Festival Trials Day is headlined by the £100,000 G2 BetBright Trial Chase (2.15pm). Staged over three miles and a furlong, the BetBright Trial Chase is a leading trial for the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival.
Luminaries such as One Man, Master Oats, See More Business and Many Clouds all feature on the roll of honour. Outstanding King George VI Chase hero, the unbeaten novice chaser Thistlecrack (Colin Tizzard), is being aimed at the BetBright Trial Chase as he completes his preparation for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Top-quality staying hurdle action is provided by the £60,000 G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (4.00pm) over three miles. Thistlecrack won this race 12 months ago prior to his devastating victory in the G1 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at The
Festival, while two other top staying hurdlers, Inglis Drever and Big Bucks, were also successful in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle ahead of victories in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
There is Pattern action on offer for novices with the opening £30,000 G2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (12.30pm, 2m 179y) and the £30,000 G2 Neptune Investment Management Classic Novices’ Hurdle (3.25pm, 2m 4f 56y), while the feature handicaps of the day are the £60,000 G3 Trophy Handicap Chase (1.40pm, 2m 4f 166y) and the £25,000 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (1.05pm, 2m 4f 166y).
The Jockey Club Ownership Cheltenham & South West Syndicate was launched on 1st October, 2016 and has 250 members and three horses in training. For a one-off payment of £2,590, the syndicate runs for two years and the package also includes full annual member access to Cheltenham, Exeter, Warwick and Wincanton Racecourses.
Final Choice (Warren Greatrex) could line up for the syndicate in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial on Festival Trials Day.
Bred by Her Majesty The Queen and a winner on the Flat at Bath when trained by Roger Charlton, Final Choice made a promising hurdling debut when runner-up in a juvenile hurdle at Warwick on 8th December and stepped up on that effort when the eight-length winner of a similar contest at Newbury on 31st December.
Upper Lambourn-based Greatrex said: “There is a possibility Final Choice could go to Cheltenham for the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial on Festival Trials Day. He is also in at Newbury this week and will also get an entry for Ascot on 21st January. We
will keep an eye on the weather and come to a decision.
“He did it very well at Newbury last time out. You can’t really gauge him at home as he is very lazy. He raced a bit lazily at Newbury but is a very strong stayer, handles soft ground and jumps very well.
“I wouldn’t really have a handle on where we are yet – I think he could be a lot better than we have seen because I think he will get better and better.
“He may require some form of headgear at some point just to sharpen him up as I think he may be a horse that is always going to run quite lazily. In better races, he might just need to be a bit sharper.”
An added bonus to the race programme on Festival Trials Day in 2017 is the £25,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (2.50pm, 3m 6f 37y), which was rescheduled following its abandonment at The Open in November due to the lack of rain.
Festival Trials Day concludes with the £25,000 Steel Plate & Sections Handicap Hurdle (4.35pm, 2m 179y).