Santini (Nicky Henderson/Aidan Coleman) and Bristol de Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Daryl Jacob), first and second respectively in the 2020 running of the Paddy Power ‘45 Sleeps To Cheltenham’ Cotswold Chase, feature among the eight declared runners for this year’s renewal of the G2 contest, one of the highlights at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, 30 January.
Staged over three miles and a furlong, the Paddy Power ’45 Sleeps To Cheltenham’ Cotswold Chase (2.25pm) is a leading trial for the G1 Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival™, with three winners going on to success in the chasing showpiece later in the same season – Little Owl (1981), Master Oats (1995) and Looks Like Trouble (2000).
Last year Santini came out three and a half lengths to the good over Bristol de Mai before going on to find only Al Boum Photo a neck to strong in chasing’s Blue Riband. The nine-year-old has made two appearances so far this season, chasing home the re-opposing Lake View Lad (Nick Alexander/Brian Hughes) in the G2 William Hill Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December before going to take fifth in the G1 Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Bristol de Mai has had one run this term, winning the G1 Betfair Chase for the third time at Haydock Park in November. The duo are 9/4 joint-favourites with Paddy Power.
Lake View Lad, who carries the famous silks of owner Trevor Hemmings, caused a 16/1 upset when scoring at Aintree. The 11-year-old grey enjoyed a great season in 2018/19, winning the G3 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby and finishing third in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at The Festival™. He was winless in three starts last season before making his winning reappearance at Aintree.
Trainer Nick Alexander, who is based in Scotland, said today: “Lake View Lad is in good form and the Cotswold Chase has been the plan for him since his win at Aintree.
“He will set sail for Cheltenham tomorrow and we will see what happens. The weather forecast doesn’t look good, but he is an intended runner.
“He is 6lb worse off with Santini and Native River based on his Aintree win and with that in mind, they should be beating him this time. You also have Bristol de Mai in there, so it is a very tough race, but we will see what happens.
“He is proven on heavy ground, so conditions won’t be a problem for him and this has been his target, so hopefully the meeting does go ahead.”
Also among the eight declared runners is Native River (Colin Tizzard/Richard Johnson), winner of the Gold Cup in 2018 and third behind Lake View Lad and Santini at Aintree. Saint Calvados (Harry Whittington/Gavin Sheehan) also brings good Cheltenham form to the table, having come home the neck second in the G1 Ryanair Chase last season.
Yala Enki (Paul Nicholls/Bryony Frost) makes a quick reappearance, having scored at Taunton last Saturday. Completing the line-up are The Conditional (David Bridgwater/Tom Scudamore), successful in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at The Festival™ in 2020, and Yorkhill (Sandy Thomson/Ryan Mania). Yorkhill, who is part-owned by golfer Lee Westwood, was a dual winner at The Festival™ for his former trainer Willie Mullins, taking the G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 2016 and the G1 Marsh Novices’ Chase in 2017. He won his first race for current trainer Sandy Thomson when landing the Listed Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in November.
Paddy Power ‘45 Sleeps To Cheltenham' Cotswold Chase
Paddy Power bet: 9/4 Bristol De Mai, Santini; 4 Native River; 11-2 Saint Calvados; 14 Yala Enki; 16 Lake View Lad, The Conditional; 33 Yorkhill
Bookmaker Paddy Power also extends its support to the G2 Paddy Power Cleeve Hurdle (3.35pm, 3m, 6 runners), which Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle/Aidan Coleman) will attempt to win for the third year in succession. Also triumphant in the G1 Stayers’ Hurdle at The Festival™ in 2019, the nine-year-old looked as good as ever when landing the G1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last month.
Paddy Power Cleeve Hurdle
Paddy Power bet: 4/9 Paisley Park; 9/2 Itchy Feet; 7 Main Fact; 16 Unowhatimeanharry; 20 Ramses De Teillee; 33 Decor Irlandais
The third contest supported by Paddy Power is the G3 Paddy Power Millionaire Trophy Handicap Chase (2m 4½f, 1.50pm, 11 runners). The Paddy Power Millionaire Handicap Chase is the culmination of a campaign, which concluded at the end of 2020. Paddy Power online customers who backed winners of a designated Saturday race went into a draw the following Monday, broadcast live on social media. Each weekly draw winner gained £10,000 and a “Golden Ticket” which will randomly assign them a runner in the Paddy Power Millionaire Handicap Chase. Winners included one customer who had recently had his golf clubs stolen, one nan working overtime at Argos for Christmas and a very happy punter who was celebrating her 40th on the day of her weekly win. In addition to the current weekly winners, two horses in the final field will also be allocated to Paddy Power retail customers and one to members of the Paddy Power Rewards Club. Any remaining runners will then be allocated by means of a wildcard draw. For full terms and conditions, please go to https://news.paddypower.com/horse-racing
Midnight Shadow (Sue Smith/Ryan Mania), a dual G2 winner at Cheltenham, heads the market at 4/1 with Paddy Power following his second in the G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at The International in December.
Paddy Power Millionaire Chase Trophy
Paddy Power bet: 4 Midnight Shadow; 5 Caribean Boy; 6 Al Dancer; 7 Benatar; 8 Oldgrangewood; 9 Aso, Mister Whitaker; 10 Happy Diva; 12 Kauto Riko; 14 Clan Legend; 20 Eden Du Houx
Paddy Power himself said: “The Paddy Power Millionaire Chase Trophy looks ultra-competitive with 11 combatants, which means that the same number of our customers will be in a state of absolute excitement in the knowledge that they might become a millionaire if their allocated horse is first past the post.
“Nicky Henderson had expressed doubts about the participation of Santini in the Paddy Power '45 Sleeps To Cheltenham' Cotswold Chase, but I’m delighted that last year’s winner who went on to finish runner-up in the Gold Cup has been declared and will lock horns again with Bristol de Mai, while on a dream of a day’s racing all eyes will be on former Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle champ Paisley Park in the Paddy Power Cleeve Hurdle.”
Festival Trials Day gets underway with the G2 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (12.40pm, 2m 1f, 4 runners), while there is further G2 action courtesy of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (3.00pm, 2m 4f, 5 runners).
Among the five starters in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is Bear Ghylls (Nicky Martin/Matt Griffiths), who is unbeaten in four starts. After causing a 33/1 upset on debut in a bumper at Warwick last season, the six-year-old has impressed with three victories over hurdles during the current campaign, most recently scoring by five lengths at Exeter on 10 January.
Somerset-based Martin reported: “The trip will be fine for Bear Ghylls, but this is different to what he has been running in. He has beaten some nice horses that have gone on and done well.
“The horse has just got raw talent as he doesn’t respect his hurdles and is a bit like a bull in a china shop. I think once he gets to see a fence he will be better as it will help him respect the obstacles a bit more, plus he is built like a chaser.
“He coped with Exeter fine, which is a staying track, so he should be okay at Cheltenham. It is not every horse's cup of tea but he has a long stride and it is a galloping track, so it is likely to suit.
“He is the highest-rated horse in the race but that doesn’t mean anything as he still has to go out there and do it. Hopefully, after this it will be on to The Festival.”
Completing the Festival Trials Day programme are the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (1.15pm, 2m 4½f, 9 runners) and the concluding SSS Super Alloys Handicap Hurdle (4.10pm, 2m 1f, 10 runners).