The LK Bennett Clarence House Chase might be small on quantity but the quality promises to make the two-mile contest one of the races of the season. The reigning Champion Chaser, Energumene, is set to travel over from Willie Mullins’ Irish stables to take on last season’s Arkle Trophy hero, Edwardstone, for the Grade 1 prize.
Throw in improving seven-year-old Amarillo Sky and we’ve got a superb race in prospect. It’s likely to have a big bearing in the Champion Chase as Energumene and Edwardstone are the two leading fancies for the Cheltenham Festival prize. If the Clarence House Chase lives up to last year’s exciting finish – when Shishkin grabbed Energumene in the closing stages – we are in for a rare treat.
The feature race is supported by a Grade 2 mares’ hurdle and three competitive handicaps, as well as a novices’ hurdle and a juvenile hurdle. There’s also some cracking racing at Haydock on Saturday. The Grade 2 Peter Marsh Chase has a rich history. It’s been won by some top-class chasers, including Cheltenham Gold Cup heroes Bregawn, The Thinker and Jodami.
This year, Venetia Williams could attempt to lift the trophy for the third successive year with Fontaine Collonges. The Herefordshire-based trainer won the last two with Royal Pagaille. Three-time Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai – successful in the 2017 Peter Marsh Chase – is also among the entries.
The New One Unibet Hurdle is one of three Grade 2 supporting races. It’s named after the four-time winner of this Champion Hurdle trial and could see Epatante push her Cheltenham Festival claims.
The cold snap has, unfortunately, claimed the opening day of Lingfield’s Winter Million Festival with Friday’s card called off. The £110,000 Sovereign Handicap Hurdle – won last year by Grade 1 winner Metier who could return to defend his crown – has been saved. It will switch to Sunday, along with the Godstone Chase, to form a bumper nine-race card.
There’s no worries about Saturday’s fixture as it’s a competitive all-weather card. The £100,000 Winter Oaks is the big race of the day, which has attracted entries from some of Flat racing’s top stables. The Festival reaches its climax on Sunday with an excellent card topped by the Fleur De Lys Chase run over 2m6f. It has attracted an smart field with Cheltenham Festival winner Corach Rambler, highly-rated Dusart and Bristol De Mai among those who could fight it out for the £165,000 in prizemoney. They will all have to wrestle the trophy from Two For Gold, who is also among the entries. Lingfield is offering some great value deals for admission, family bundles and hospitality packages. Go to www.lingfieldpark.co.uk for more details.
With Taunton set to host a jumps card on Saturday and Wolverhampton holding an all-weather evening meeting, it’s clearly shaping up to be a wonderful weekend of racing. It really is not to be missed