Last year, the Cheltenham trials day saw three winners from the day go on and win at the festival. This year the fields did not look as strong, but we did get a couple of clues for the big races which punters will be looking to use in March in the Cheltenham Festival 2020.
The trail meeting was run at the course on Saturday, January 25th, 2020. Usually, those who do well here have the key advantage of showing course form prior to the big meeting. Which, let’s be fair, is always something you should have on your side.
Santini Delivers Strong Performance in Cotswold Chase
The Cotswold Chase is a trial traditionally for the Gold Cup. The winner from last year, Frodon, went on to win the Ryanair Chase over a shorter distance rather than tacking the Gold Cup test. This year’s winner will certainly be heading to the Gold Cup after his performance. And the winner was the Nicky Henderson trained Santini.
Whether he has the ability to go and win a Gold Cup remains up for debate. But one thing we did learn about him from this race was his staying power. The Cotswold Chase is run over 3m1f, so slightly shorter than the Gold Cup. But Santini stayed on strongly and looked like the type of horse who would be even better over further.
He outbattled the reliable grey horse Bristol De Mai, and the front pair were well clear of the rest of the field, who were outclassed. That includes Grand National 2020 contender Mister Whitaker, who was pulled-up. For Santini, this was a good run, perhaps not visually as impressive as some we have seen, but it did guarantee that he will get the trip no problem.
He may fall just short in terms of ability, but while the non-stayers drop away up the hill, he is one horse who will be staying on very strongly.
Paisley Park Storms Home
Paisley Park won the Stayers Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and if his performance in the Cleeve Hurdle is anything to go by then he will prove very tough to beat once again in 2020. There is no doubt that he is the star of the staying division right now. And although he looked to have a battle on at the bottom of the hill, he powered up it to win in good fashion.
We are still waiting to see who takes him on, with Champ and Summerville Boy in contention. But realistically, challengers to his crown appear to be thin on the ground. The way that the Stayers Hurdle would turn into a great match is if the Willie Mullins trained mare Benie Des Dieux turned up instead of going for the Mares Hurdle. Though that seems unlikely to happen.
Assuming that is doesn’t, Paisley Park is going to take a lot of beating at Cheltenham, which is why he is currently odds on with the bookmakers to win. With no clear challenger, even if he wasn’t quite at his best he is probably good enough to win this.
All eyes now turn to the 2020 Cheltenham Festival for him where he bids to win back to back Stayers Hurdle titles.