Horse Talk with Simon Jackson: Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
CHELTENHAM continue to protect parts of the racecourse with frost covers ahead Saturday’s meeting where the ground is now Soft, Good to Soft in places on the Chase and Hurdle courses and Good to Soft, Good in places on the Cross Country course.
The Gloucester track is taking nothing for granted ahead of Festival Trials Day despite the forecast milder weather at the weekend when the prediction is for light overnight rain on Friday night, followed by a generally dry day with expected temperatures of approximately eight degrees on Saturday.
The bumper nine-race card has attracted high-class entries that include Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack, whose six rivals in the Group 2 £100,000 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase include 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds.
Thistlecrack remains unbeaten in four runs over fences after his emphatic victory in the Group 1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and heads the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Colin Tizzard-trained nine-year-old was far too good for his rivals in the boutique field that contested the King George and Betbright’s representative, Noel Hayes, believes that his price will contract further if he impresses on Saturday.
Hayes, director of sportsbook at BetBright, said: “Thistlecrack, the current Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite, will look to cement his elite status in the run-up to The Festival and punters will be watching keenly, hoping that he can continue his perfect march towards chasing history.
“Thistlecrack is currently priced at 8/11 for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and if we see the performance we hope to see from the favourite this Saturday you can expect to see that price shorten even further as we approach The Festival.”
The first race at Cheltenham is set to go off at 12.00 noon with the last race scheduled for 4.35pm.
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.