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Paisley Park & Santini among entries for superb Festival Trials Day

Press Release 21st January 2020 Cheltenham

Cheltenham Racecourse stages its final fixture before The Festival™ presented by Magners (March 10 to 13) with an excellent seven-race card on Festival Trials Day this Saturday, 25 January.

The feature races are £100,000 G2 Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (2.25pm, 3m 1f 56y, nine entries), a recognised trial for the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the £60,000 G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (3.35pm, 3m, 11 entries).

Star staying hurdler Paisley Park routed the opposition in last year's galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle and crowned an unbeaten campaign soon afterwards with a memorable victory in the G1 Stayers' Hurdle at The Festival.

The eight-year-old made a successful comeback in the G2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November but did not take up his engagement in the G1 Marsh Hurdle at Ascot in December due to heavy ground.

Trainer Emma Lavelle said: "Paisley Park is in great shape and firmly on course for Cheltenham on Saturday.

"He came out of Newbury very well and, of course after last season there was a lot of pressure for us with that race, so we were delighted with that performance.

"Not running at Ascot has ended up working out well and I am very happy.

"It's on to the Cleeve on Saturday and then back to Cheltenham in March. He is in good order and I can't wait to run him."

Opposition to Paisley Park this weekend is likely to include If The Cap Fits (Harry Fry), winner of the G1 Stayers' Hurdle at Aintree in April, and recent G2 Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle victor Summerville Boy (Tom George).

Prolific Irish mare Apple's Jade (Gordon Elliott IRE) is also engaged after recording her 10th G1 success at Leopardstown over Christmas, along with the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of L'Ami Serge and William Henry.

An informative renewal of the G2 Paddy Power Cotswold Chase looks likely with several leading Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders among the nine entries.

Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies), winner of the G1 Betfair Chase in 2017 and 2018, is set to clash with G1 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase second Santini (Nicky Henderson, 5/4 favourite with sponsor Paddy Power) who had to work when making a successful return at Sandown Park in November.

Lavelle is hope De Rasher Counter (7/1 with Paddy Power) can make the jump to this level after a strong staying victory in the G3 Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase at Newbury in November.

The trainer said: "De Rasher Counter is very well and he heads for the Cotswold Chase.

"We were delighted with his performance in the Ladbrokes Trophy, but Saturday is another step up. This race is going to be key in determining whether he is a legitimate Gold Cup contender, so we need to see how he gets on this weekend.

"He worked well the other day, he stays well and is a good jumper. We are looking forward to seeing how he gets on."

G1 Savills Chase victor Delta Work (Gordon Elliott), the pick of three Irish-trained entries, G1-winning novice Slate House (Colin Tizzard) and Top Ville Ben (Phil Kirby) are also engaged.

Paddy Power Cotswold Chase: 5/4 Santini; 7/4 Bristol De Mai; 5/1 Delta Work; 13/2 Top Ville Ben; 7/1 De Rasher Counter; 10/1 Slate House; 20/1 lpha Des Obeaux, Mitaker; 33/1 Ex Patriot

Paul Binfield, racecourse ambassador for Paddy Power: "What a fascinating set of entries we have been rewarded with in our first year of sponsorship of the Cotswold Chase.

"The potentially unexposed Santini is Paddy Power's 5/4 market leader following his comeback at Sandown in November. With last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup third Bristol de Mai and progressive G3 handicap scorers De Rasher Counter and Top Ville Ben also potential starters, there is a sense of anticipation in the air."

The feature handicap on the card is £70,000 G3 Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase (1.50pm, 2m 4f 127y). Lalor (Kayley Woollacott), who was just touched off when third in a similar contest at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, is among the 19 entries.

Paddy Power Trophy Handicap Chase: 5/1 My Way, Spiritofthegames, Warthog; 6/1 Lalor; 7/1 Ex Patriot; 8/1 Cepagm Highway One O One, Jerrysback; 10/1 Count Meribel; 12/1 Clondaw Castle; 16/1 Garde La Victoire, Militarian, The Kings Writ, Wishfull Dreaming; 20/1 Two Taffs; 25/1 Cool Mix; 33/1 Fixed Rate, Flowery; 50/1 Western Miller

Stars of the future could be on show in the £32,000 G2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial Juvenile Hurdle (12.40pm, 2m 179y, 14 entries) and the £32,000 G2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (3.00pm, 2m 4f 56y, 15 entries).

Completing the action is the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase (1.15pm, 2m 4f 127y, 24 entries), in which Samcro (Gordon Elliott IRE) holds an entry, and the concluding Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle (4.10pm, 2m 179y, 20 entries).

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