Horse Racing

Cheltenham Trials Day – Saturday 29th January

Saturday 29th January 13:55

WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith previews Cheltenham's Trials Day card on Saturday 29th January, and provides two each-way selections.

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Bookie Selection Best Odds Market Bet
Torn And Frayed 10/110/1 13.55 Cheltenham - Sat 29th Jan
each-way (3 places 1/5)
Place BetPlace Bet
Aye Right 4/14/1 14.30 Cheltenham - Sat 29th Jan
each-way (2 places 1/4)
Place BetPlace Bet

Date of Tips: 28/01/2022

Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (10:02 28/01/2022) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.

Trials Day at Cheltenham on Saturday can often be something of a misnomer, but Nicky Henderson is taking it very literally this season, as two of his high-profile JP McManus-owned stars put their Cheltenham Festival credentials very much on the line.

Champ was parachuted into Stayers’ Hurdle favouritism after Klassical Dream’s flop at Gowran Park on Thursday, and he looks to have a gold-plated opportunity to cement his position at the head of the market by winning Saturday’s Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham at 3.05.

The value seeker in me hopes that he does win, shortens, and in the same vein the layers push out last year’s winner Flooring Porter to 5/1+, as that would be very tempting indeed. But as for the Cleeve itself, I can’t get involved at the current prices.

The other trialist is Gold Cup hopeful Chantry House, who tests his mettle in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at 2.30, and is the current 10/11 favourite. I wouldn’t argue that he is the wrong favourite, but he is beatable certainly.

Before his pulled-up effort in the King George, Chantry House was a bit of a winning machine – but his two Grade 1 wins last spring were achieved with large dollops of luck, given the high profile falls of Envoi Allen and Espoir De Romay.

I’d have been quite happy to suggest that we could put a line through the King George flop, as maybe the ground was against him, certainly the track was, and the frenetic tempo put him out of his comfort zone a little.

Nico De Boinville is never shy of pulling one up, to his credit, when it’s obvious that a horse’s chance has gone. It is a large reason why Henderson’s horses have a good deal of longevity attached to them.

But the fitting of cheekpieces for Saturday’s Cotswold Chase is almost an admission of something else being slightly less than ideal going into the race. Despite the presence of three horses who can and have raced prominently, could the extra headgear just make Chantry House do a little too much too early?

What is obvious is that the race could develop into a stamina test, and that would surely play into the hands of Aye Right, who is cast iron when it comes to depths of resolve and stamina.

At 4/1 each-way with a few firms, Aye Right has to be the bet in the race. Crabbers will point to his relatively untested status in Graded chases, but look back to his only try in an open company Graded race, and you will find a running on effort in last season’s Charlie Hall Chase as a real positive, in a race that was a relative test of speed. There is also no doubt that Aye Right is a better horse now.

Also, Aye Right has jumped round Cheltenham to good effect twice previously, including another running-on effort over 3m1f on the Old course in last season’s Ultima Handicap Chase.

With his recent win in the Rehearsal Chase having been boosted by the runner-up Good Boy Bobby winning the Rowland Meyrick last time out, it is conceivable that Aye Right takes on potentially the biggest race of his career at the absolute peak of his powers.

Given the opposition features a favourite with a bit to prove, a second favourite who is a doubtful stayer, and then two at bigger prices who are possibly not quite the force of old (Santini) and not good enough (Kauto Riko), I can’t get away from the 4/1 each-way about Aye Right being an excellent bet.

There is one other bet on Cheltenham’s Saturday card, and that comes in the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase at 1.55.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has a long-standing preference in running a relatively unexposed novice chaser in this open handicap, as opposed to the novices’ handicap chase 35 minutes earlier. He did it with Ballyhill in 2018, before the horse went on to finish 2nd in the race in 2019. He also did it with Little Jon in 2015, Double Ross was a gallant runner-up in 2014 attempting the same feat, while in 2017 Foxtail Hill successfully achieved a win in this race as a novice.

This time around he sets Torn And Frayed on the same path that many before him have trod, and the fact that he comes into this off the back of being pulled-up in the bottomless quagmire at Haydock Park, where Sam Twiston-Davies very much looked after him – means that we can now back him at a double figure price back on much more suitable ground.

Torn And Frayed has been building up a good CV this season, and with that experience being vital, at 10/1 each-way with Sky Bet, he is the bet of the day on Saturday.

As a novice, he could improve past what is mostly an exposed bunch, and also plenty won’t enjoy the good ground. Plus, Torn And Frayed has a lovely prominent run style that will suit the New Course.

The only other horse in the race who might go forward with him is the tough-as-teak Coole Cody, but he showed last time that perhaps he is feeling the effects of relentless battle after relentless battle.

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