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Hales on the Hunt for Cheltenham glory at Saturday’s Festival Trials Day

Press Release 25th January 2018 Cheltenham

Trainer Alex Hales is set to run the progressive Huntsman Son in the £27,500 Steel Plate and Sections Handicap Hurdle (4.10pm 16 entries) at Cheltenham this Saturday, Festival Trials Day, January 27.  
The lightly-raced eight-year-old, allotted 11st for the extended two-mile contest, has recorded two victories from five career starts under Rules and registered back-to-back victories at Market Rasen and Doncaster in December.
The son of Millenary will have the services of one of the finest young talents in the weighing room on Saturday, 16-year-old James Bowen.
Oxfordshire-based Hales said today: "Huntsman Son has come out of the Newbury race [December 30, 4th, beaten eight and a half-lengths] fine and we're looking forward to Saturday.
"At Newbury, I thought he probably didn't stay the two and a half miles on that ground and we think it's worth dropping back in trip on slightly better ground on Saturday.
"I thought he ran well at Newbury in what looks to have been a fair race. We're hoping that the trip will suit.
"James [Bowen, jockey] is obviously the kid of the moment and it's great to have him on board again [Bowen has partnered Huntsman Son in his last two races]. When they are riding high like James is, it's great to be able to use him.
"The horse is very well and this looks a nice opportunity for him. He had a few problems earlier in his career. He had a leg injury after his Worcester run [in June, 2016), so that's why he had to have a year off, but this year he has been very uncomplicated.
"The horses all seem to be running well at the moment, so it's nice to have the stable in good form and long may it last.
"We'll look forward to Saturday and then probably decide as to whether he goes for a race at The Festival after that. We won't jump the gun on any future plans."
Potential opposition includes 2017 G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle sixth and top-weight Charli Parcs (Nicky Henderson 11st 12lb), Remiluc (Chris Gordon, 11st 6lb), a creditable second over course and distance at Cheltenham in December and the mare Brillare Momento (Martin Keighley 11st 2lb), a one and a half-length winner at Cheltenham in October.
Other potential starters include Our Merlin (Robert Walford 10st 8lb), who has registered three victories in his last four outings, Magic Dancer (Kerry Lee 10st 5lb), a five length winner at Cheltenham over course and distance at the November Meeting and Litterale Ci (Harry Fry 10st 3lb), a four length winner at Ludlow on December 20.
Festival Trials Day offers racegoers the final opportunity to experience action at the Home of Jump Racing before The Festival (Tuesday, March 13 to Friday, March 16 inclusive).
A superb seven-race programme is headlined by the £100,000 G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase (2.25pm, 10 entries), a leading trial for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival.
Bristol De Mai, a decisive winner of the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock, bids to get back on track after a disappointing effort in the G1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
Potential clues for The Festival are also on offer in the £60,000 G2 Cleeve Hurdle (3.35pm) over three miles. The 11 entries include Finian's Oscar (Colin Tizzard), course specialist Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Colin's Sister (Fergal O'Brien).
The card is opened by the £32,000 G2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (12.40pm, eight entries), landed by subsequent G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle victor Defi Du Seuil in 2017.
Many Clouds, who enjoyed his finest hour when winning the 2015 Grand National, will be remembered at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day with the screening of the film Many Clouds - The People's Horse.
Many Clouds - The People's Horse was produced by Equine Productions and directed by Nathan Horrocks, who rode Many Clouds in his work at home.
The film remembers the courageous Trevor Hemmings-owned gelding, who sadly passed away following his head victory over Thistlecrack in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase on Festival Trials Day in 2017. He also won the race in 2015.
The performance of Many Clouds at Cheltenham last year saw the horse, who was ridden by Leighton Aspell throughout his career, subsequently announced as the leading staying chaser in the 2016/17 Anglo Irish Jump Classifications.
Horrocks, who picked up award for best director at the prestigious EQUUS Film Festival in New York, will feature in Q&A sessions alongside Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Many Clouds.
The two Q&A sessions will take place in the winner's enclosure at 12.05pm and 2.05pm. Racegoers will be able to submit questions to Horrocks and Sherwood via Cheltenham's Twitter account @CheltenhamRaces.
Following the running of the last race at 4.10pm, Many Clouds - The People's Horsewill be shown on TV screens across the racecourse.
Total prize money on Festival Trials Day has been boosted to £354,000 this year - an increase of £24,000 (seven per cent) on the 2017 level.
Accompanied children, aged under 18, are admitted FREE on Festival Trials Day, when the gates open at 10am.
Latest going
The going at Cheltenham is currently: Soft
Today and Friday are forecast to be dry, with showers expected on Saturday.


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