Eye On Cheltenham – Paisley Park and Santini star on Trials Day after Benie lays down Festival marker

Paisley Park beating Summerville Boy in the Cleeve Hurdle.

Eye on Cheltenham Festival. The lastest developments on the 2020 Cheltenham Festival betting after Cheltenham Trials day on Saturday 25th January.

Eye On Cheltenham Week 13

Trials Day

Trials Day at Cheltenham usually throws up a clue or three for that year’s Festival, and Saturday’s meeting was no different. The star attraction was undoubtedly Paisley Park, who carried a penalty and a short price into the Cleeve Hurdle. Despite spirited efforts from Summerville Boy and Lisnagar Oscar, Emma Lavelle’s star wasn’t to be denied, grinding out an impressive one-and-a-quarter-length triumph.

Paisley Park was then clipped into odds-on to retain his Stayers’ Hurdle crown in March, with Betfair offering a best price of even-money on the dual-Cleeve Hurdle winner. Summerville Boy saw out the trip really well on his first start over three miles. A performance that forced William Hill into cutting his Stayers’ Hurdle odds in from 20s to 8/1.

Santini then earned fresh quotes of 7/1 in the betting for the Gold Cup, after beating Bristol De Mai in the Cotswold Chase. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star made the running, but jumped erratically throughout, making a near-fatal error at the third-last. Bristol De Mai recovered, and even jumped the last on-terms with Santini, but it was Nicky Henderson’s charge who pulled clear on the run to the line.

Santini returns after winning the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase during Festival Trials Day.

The final Graded race on Saturday’s card went the way of Colin Tizzard, as Harry Senior saw off King Roland in good style to land the Ballymore Trial trophy. Following the race, Robbie Power said his mount would be perfectly suited to the Albert Bartlett at the Festival. As a result, Harry Senior was clipped into 10/1 to win the three-miler with Unibet, while also receiving quotes of 14/1 to win the Ballymore.

Cepage then got back on the scoresheet in the Trophy Handicap Chase, carrying top-weight to victory from the front. Venetia Williams’ charge saw his price in the Ryanair cut from 66s into 33/1 by Unibet. It’s more likely that the Brown Advisory Plate will be his objective, with Unibet handing Cepage fresh quotes of 16/1 to win that handicap. Third-placed Lalor also came into 16/1 after a fine effort under 11-11, with runner-up Spiritofthegames coming into 20/1 to win the Plate with Unibet.

The Timeform Handicap Chase is often a good pointer towards the Close Brothers at Cheltenham, and it was Simply The Betts who produced an excellent display to beat well-backed favourite, Imperial Aura. Kim Bailey’s runner-up now looks set for the Close Brothers, and saw his odds for that handicap come in from 20s to 10/1 with Paddy Power. Simply The Betts was also cut into 12/1 to follow-up in that handicap. However, it looks likely he will be pushed up beyond the 145-ceiling for the Close Brothers, and may have to target either the Marsh Novices’ Chase or the Brown Advisory Plate.

Elsewhere On Saturday

Alongside Trials Day, there was a great card up at Doncaster to take in on Saturday. Attendees were treated to a thrilling renewal of the Lightning Novices’ Chase, with Mister Fisher edging out Al Dancer and Lisp over two miles. Nicky Henderson’s charge was then cut into 14/1 to win the Arkle with Paddy Power. The same bookies also made Mister Fisher the new 9/1 second-favourite for the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

Former Welsh Grand National runner-up, Ramses De Teillee made the most of his novice status over hurdles to win the River Don by a streak, causing Unibet to cut David Pipe’s grey into 20/1 for the Albert Bartlett. The ever-popular Lady Buttons came into 16/1 for the Mares’ Hurdle after retaining her Yorkshire Rose crown. Ok Corral shortened into 14/1 to win the Ultima, following a hard-fought triumph in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase.

At Fairyhouse on Saturday, Allaho got off the mark over fences at the second time of asking, and his odds for the RSA were cut into single-figures after a runaway 21-length success. Minella Melody then got the better of Dolcita and Colreevy to win a Grade Three Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, forcing William Hill to cut Henry De Bromhead’s winner into 11/2 second-favouritism for the equivalent race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Carefully Selected leads the market for the National Hunt Chase.


Sunday’s major action took place at Naas, where Carefully Selected narrowly prevailed in a modest three-mile chase. Willie Mullins’ charge had to place on Sunday to qualify for the National Hunt Chase, and Mullins’ obvious intent saw Carefully Selected cut into 7/2 for the former four-miler in the build-up to Sunday’s race. Yet, despite winning, a poor round of jumping caused William Hill to push Carefully Selected back out to 4/1 to win at the Festival.

Stormy Ireland bolted up to win another Graded race on Sunday, and Paddy Power were quick to cut Willie Mullins’ charge in from 12s to 8/1 in the betting for the Mares’ Hurdle. The Big Breakaway made up for a poor performance over Christmas with victory on Sunday too, leading to Ladbrokes cutting Mullins’ novice in from 50s to 20/1 in the betting for the Ballymore.


A surprise defeat for Mister Coffey on Friday saw Nicky Henderson’s youngster drift out from 25s to 50/1 in William Hill’s market for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Maire Banrigh, on the other hand, justified her short starting price with another fine victory over fences, and Dan Skelton’s mare was pulled into 16/1 to win the Arkle with Ladbrokes.

Grand Roi and Blacko ran out worthy winners of juvenile races during the week, and received fresh prices of 20/1 and 33/1 respectively in the betting for the Triumph Hurdle. Former National Hunt Chase winner and Gold Cup runner-up, Minella Rocco powered home on his first start in a Hunters Chase at Warwick on Wednesday. Jonjo O’Neill’s charge then entered the Foxhunters betting on a price of 12/1.

The stand-out midweek market mover, though, was Benie Des Dieux, who bolted up to win the Galmoy Hurdle by 21-lengths. On the back of that bloodless display, Ladbrokes cut the former winner in from 2/1 to 4/5 to regain her Mares’ Hurdle crown.

There was even talk of a potential showdown with Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle on the back of that three-mile romp. Ladbrokes were one of the many bookies who cut Benie Des Dieux into 5/1 second-favouritism in the Cheltenham Festival’s most historic Championship race.