The last Saturday in January sees the final day of racing at Cheltenham before The Festival in March.
To be held on 25th January in 2020, Festival Trials Day provides the opportunity for potential Festival contenders to complete their on-course preparation for the big event, ensuring top quality action throughout the day. The highlight race is the £100,000 G2 Cotswold Chase, this year sponsored by Paddy Power.
Staged over three miles and a furlong, the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase is a leading trial for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival™ presented by Magners in March.
Since its introduction in 1980, the Cotswold Chase has been won by four subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winners – Little Owl, Master Oats, See More Business and Look Like Trouble. One of the most remarkable renewals came in 1986 when Dawn Run lined up. Starting the 4/9 favourite, the great mare looked to be well in command when unseating her rider Tony Mullins at the 16th fence. She was remounted to finish fourth behind Misty Spirit. Famously, she returned to Cheltenham in March to land chasing’s championship event, becoming the only horse to win both the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Last year’s renewal went to Frodon, who handed a record fifth success in the race to trainer Paul Nicholls. Frodon went on to become the first Cotswold Chase hero to subsequently win the G1 Ryanair Chase at The Festival when scoring a memorable victory under regular pilot Bryony Frost – who became the first female rider to win a G1 race over obstacles at The Festival.
One horse on course for the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase in 2020 is Top Ville Ben, who posted his biggest success to date last time out when landing the G3 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day. The eight-year-old holds an entry in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Kirby, who is based in North Yorkshire, said: “Top Ville Ben is in good form and the Cotswold Chase is a possibility. He will either head to the Cotswold or the Denman Chase and that will tell us more about his Gold Cup claims.
“We entered him in the Gold Cup and he deserved an entry so we will see how that race is shaping up along with how he runs at either Cheltenham or Newbury.
“He has enjoyed a great season and it was great to see him win the Rowland Meyrick.
“It’s very exciting to have a horse like him and hopefully there is plenty more to come from him.”
The second contest sponsored by Paddy Power on Festival Trials Day 2020 is the £70,000 G3 Paddy Power 45 Sleeps to Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase. Always a competitive affair, the extended two and a half mile handicap boasts an impressive roll of honour.
Last year’s renewal went to the Nick Williams-trained Siruh Du Lac, who went on to land the G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase over the same distance at The Festival. Frodon was the winner in 2018, while 2012 winner The Giant Bolster went on the finish runner-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup later that season.
Carey Weeks, Head of Partnerships for The Jockey Club South West, said: “Festival Trials Day is the final action at the Home of Jump Racing before The Festival and is always very popular with lots of talking points.”
THE RACEDAY SCHEDULE
There will be seven races, including the 3:35pm G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle Race, which was won by Paisley Park last year.
Gates open at 10.30am. For tickets click here.
The JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (A Juvenile Hurdle Race) (Grade 2)
2m abt 1f
The Timeform Novices’ Handicap Steeple Chase (Class 2)
2m abt 5f
The Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Trophy Steeple Chase (Grade 3)
2m abt 5f
The Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (Class 1) (Grade 2)
3m abt 1½f
The Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
2m abt 4½f
The galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle Race (Grade 2)
The Steel Plate & Sections Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)
2m abt 1f
Accompanied children, aged under 18, are admitted FREE on Festival Trials Day, when the gates open at 10.30am, while there is also FREE official car parking.
Festival Trials day will feature Live music around the course from The Hipcats in the Club/Tattersalls enclosure. There will also be live music after racing from Lampa in The Centaur for Club/Tatts racegoers – they’re a popular contemporary Irish band who will be performing Irish classics.
A variety of hand-picked boutiques will be available in the Shopping Village.
After racing Tattersalls Cheltenham will stage the January Sale. On offer at the January Sale will be a select group of winning and placed point to pointers and Jump horses in the Owners and Trainers marquee after racing on Festival Trials Day. The January Sale will be the first time a Sale has been conducted exclusively in the Tattersalls sponsored Owners and Trainers marquee at Cheltenham and will provide a luxurious environment for buyers to purchase their future winners.
CLICK BELOW FOR REVIEWS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS:
Cheltenham Trials Day 2019 – click here
Festival Trials Day held on 28th January 2017, saw the usual race programme boosted by the addition of the Grade One Clarence House Chase, from the abandoned Ascot card and the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase, rescheduled following its abandonment at The Open in November due to the lack of rain.