Cheltenham Trials Day – A proven pathway to Festival glory

Bobs Worth, Cheltenham Trials Day

Cheltenham Trials Day provides racegoers with the chance to savour great National Hunt action and could point to a few winners for the Festival in March.

There are a total of five graded races on Trials Day, all of which will be a good indication for the Stayer’s Hurdle, Gold Cup, Triumph Hurdle and more of the big races in March.

Below we list off some of great Cheltenham Trials Day winners that went on to claim Festival glory. 

Big Buck’s – Cleeve Hurdle (2009 & 2012) / Stayers’ Hurdle (2009-2012)

A true legend of the National Hunt, Big Buck’s remarkable career was only beginning to get rolling when he landed his first Graded hurdle race when winning the 2009 renewal of the Cleeve Hurdle.

His win in the 2009 Cleeve Hurdle was just number 2 in what would turn out to be the longest winning streak in modern racing history; by the time he’d passed the post first in the 2012 renewal, he’d have extended his winning streak to 15.

All in all he’d go on to amass over £1.25 Million in prize money throughout his glittering career; the highlights being four Stayers’ Hurdle wins on the bounce between 2009 and 2012.

Bobs Worth – Classic Novices’ Hurdle (2011) / 3-times Festival winner (2011-2013)

A horse famed for his bravery as well as his ability. His trainer Nicky Henderson once hailed him as “an absolute legend.”

In only his fifth start, Bobs Worth triumphed on Trials Day and the talent was there for everyone to see even that early on in his career as he took the 2011 Classic Novices’ Hurdle in front of future Champion Hurdle winner Rock on Ruby by two and half lengths.

Bobs Worth went on to become one of the best horses of his generation- he won at the Festival three years in-a-row picking up the Albert Barlett, RSA Chase and the big one, the Gold Cup.

Master Oats – Cotswold Chase (1995) / Gold Cup – (1995)

Master Oats was the very definition of a late bloomer, it took him many years to grow into his large frame and truly live up to his potential.

His early career runs were underwhelming to say the least; his first run for trainer Kim Bailey saw him pulled up long before the finish in an ordinary looking Novice Chase at Newbury. When he did go on to claim victory at Southwell two starts later, it was so unimpressive that the jockey Marcus Armytage commented, “you’ll be lucky to win another race with this thing”.

After developing into his massive frame and taking well to a new training regime under Bailey, he’d go on to win five out of his seven races as an eight-year-old.

In the 1994 / 1995 season, Master Oats won five races on the trot, the last two were the Pillar Property Investments Chase (now Cotswold Chase) and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, both won by 15 lengths in scintillating style.

Looks Like Trouble – Cotswold Chase (2000) / Gold Cup (2000)

A stunning performance from Looks Like Trouble on Trials Day, his display every bit as impressive as his Novices’ Chase victory at the Cheltenham Festival the previous year.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup was next on the agenda and the premier event of the Festival certainly didn’t disappoint. The race finished with an epic tussle up the Cheltenham hill as Florida Pearl and Looks Like Trouble locked horns after front runner Gloria Victis fell at the last. Looks Like Trouble’s stronger stamina eventually proving the difference between the two as he prevailed by five lengths

See More Business – Cotswold Chase (1998) / Gold Cup (1999)

See More Business played a pivotal role in the rise of Paul Nicholls’ career, Nicholls described him as a “horse of a lifetime”.

The horse was fresh off his King George victory going into Cheltenham Trials Day, and the form showed with a four length victory despite a bad mistake in the running – “a remarkable performance”.

(Cotswold Chase – formerly the Pillar Property Investments Chase)

See More Business would go on to race in the Gold Cup in the following season but to be taken out by Cyborgo on the seventh fence.

However, he went on to win the Gold Cup the following year despite the poor form leading into the race and a little luck with a few of the favoured horses picking up injuries but he showed his staying power to hold off his rivalries and win the most coveted prize at the Festival.

Little Owl – Cotswold Chase (1981) / Gold Cup (1981)

The Peter Easterby trained superstar was undefeated in his first eight completed starts over fences, he was once described by Timeform as “potentially one of the most talented steeplechasers since Arkle”.

Little Owl claimed victory in the Cotswold Chase (formerly known as the Tote Double Chase) with relative ease despite only having a week’s rest since his last victory at Haydock.

The 1981 Gold Cup was regarded as one of the strongest renewals of the time with superstars such as Silver Buck and stablemate Night Nurse lining up against Little Owl.

Little Owl’s leap over the last was something to behold which in the end set him apart from Night Nurse on the day as well as having the stamina to hold off his rivalries up the Cheltenham hill.

Sadly Little Owl was hampered by injuries which meant he was unable to reach the very top of the sport again in his career.

Thistlecrack – Cleeve Hurdle (2016) / Stayers’ Hurdle (2016)

Between November 2015 and December 2016, Thistlecrack he racked up nine consecutive wins and was touted to become the greatest horse of his generation because of the manner in which he won his races.

In that golden period, Thistlecrack dominated the 2016 Cleeve Hurdle streaking home to win by a massive 12 lengths.

It was an equally impressive performance in the Stayers’ Hurdle (formerly World Hurdle) where the Colin Tizzard trained horse bounded up the Cheltenham hill while his rivalries faded away to win with consummate ease.

Thistlecrack is very much back on the scene after a long time on the side-lines injured, he finished a valiant second to Clan Des Obeaux in the King George on his latest run.

After a good performance in the King George, Thistlecrack is 14/1 for the Gold Cup and 12/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle, who knows he could win yet another big race at the Festival!

Defi Du Seuil – Triumph Trial (2017) / Triumph Hurdle (2017)

2017 saw the Philip Hobbs-trained flyer maintain his then unbeaten record over hurdles and confirm his status as the Triumph Hurdle favourite.

Defi Du Seuil would go on to confirm his dominance of the juvenile hurdling division by winning the Triumph Hurdle in style on Cheltenham Festival Friday.

In the process the then four-year-old would give Richard Johnson a first Grade One winner of the week and take the Stobart Champion Jockey’s career tally to 22 wins at the Festival.


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