ED CHAMBERLIN: Four days of Cheltenham brilliance will be condensed into four frenzied hours as Burdett Road goes up against Sir Gino in the Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle
- Trial Day at Cheltenham has produced 28 Festival winners in 10 years
- Burdett Road and Sir Gino will go head-to-head in a hotly anticipated opener
- Cobden is confident of Burdett Road’s prospects as ‘best juvenile’ he has ridden
After the freeze comes the madness. From last Saturday’s all-weather diet to today’s jumping festival, a breathless day’s racing lies ahead at Cheltenham. Never mind the festival – it’s four days of glamor packed into four enchanting hours. Sit tight.
Trial Day at Cheltenham has produced 28 Festival winners in 10 years, so keep your eyes peeled. We may see the Triumph Hurdle winner in the opener, where Burdett Road and Sir Gino – first and second in the front post betting – go head-to-head.
For years we have lamented the sale of our decent Flats to run abroad, but owner Tim Gredley is bucking that trend and has a real outing with some high-class performers from the level. Burdett Road won at Royal Ascot last June but was gazelle-like over hurdles.
He’s a little pocket rocket – Harry Cobden says he’s the best youngster he’s ever ridden – but Burdett Road will feel like Calvin Smith did against Carl Lewis when he starts to trot behind Sir Gino in the paddock. Sir Gino is a stunner and the Seven Barrows team thinks the world of him.
A horse that I think the world of walks later on the map. Stay away Fay will forever be on my good list after the great favor he did me when he won the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at last year’s Festival with 18-1; I would go so far as to say that he is my favorite horse in training.
It’s set to be an action-packed event at Cheltenham this weekend, with Burdett Road, pictured here by Harry Cobden in action
Harry Cobden has described Burdett Road as a pocket rocket and is the best youth he has ever ridden
Cobden is pictured sprinting down Burdett Road in the final to win the Youth Hurdle at Huntingdon Racecourse
I am convinced he will one day become a Gold Cup contender and Paul Nicholls is putting him in early against the big boys, such as Betfair Chase hero Royale Pagaille and last year’s winner Ahoy Senor, in the Cotswold Chase (1.50).
No newcomer has won this race since the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989). We still don’t know just how good Stay Away Fay is and he might be able to make some history. Nicholls and Cobden could have a great day at Cheltenham and what a chance they have in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (12.40).
They won it 12 months ago with Stage Star, and Ginny’s Destiny has a real chance to follow up. Nicholls has made no secret of how fat the horse was when he first came to him and he remains open to much improvement.
He was lucky to beat Gray Dawning here last time, but it still looks impressive. It’s always a race to look back over and over again. Last year a Turners Novices’ Chase winner beat Coral Gold Cup winner Datsalrightgino.
The day is so good that I have yet to mention the 12-year-old Paisley Park, who runs in the Cleeve Hurdle (3.35), but who can really be counted as the best veteran race of all time.
Champ (12) and Dashel Drasher (11) will have their supporters but nothing will match Paisley Park trotting up the hill and winning the Cleeve for a fourth time. This could hasten Cheltenham’s need for a new stand.
However, dangers abound. Many will assume that Noble Yeats is just making a run as a preparation for his bid to regain his Grand National title. If that was the case, why did Emmet Mullins book Cobden, the best in the business?
My heart firmly says Paisley Park. My head says Noble Yeats might surprise a few people.
I wrote in this column weeks ago that my wish for Premier Racing was a push to get the basics right and improve the racegoer experience. ‘Success is the natural result of the consistent application of the basic fundamentals.’
Burdett Road will face Sir Gino, here ridden by Nico de Boinville, in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Stay Away Fay will also race in the Cotswold Chase later in the day and is one runner to watch
Cobden won the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase with Stage Star last year
So I’m delighted to see the spotlight shined on race start times and just how lax we’ve become in this country (via a well-researched piece by Andrew Dietz in the Racing Post).
I am fully aware that half a ton of unpredictable animals will sometimes cause delays. But there is also so much more we can do that will improve the viewer and racegoer experience. I’ve noticed improvements over the past few weeks and it looks like we’re going in the right direction. At Lingfield last weekend the horses were even on time and in race card order in the paddock.
More of the same today please.
Ed Chamberlin is a Sky Bet British Ambassador