What's On This Week? - Mouthwatering Action At Cheltenham

Features | 23rd January 2023

With the cold snap forecast to thaw in the next few days, jump racing is set to return with the
biggest of bangs this week

Cheltenham Clashes

There is a bumper nine-race card in prospect for Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on Saturday. The Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase – originally the highlight of Ascot’s abandoned weekend card – has been added to the home of jump racing’s last fixture before The Festival in March. The much-anticipated clash of reigning Champion Chaser Energumene and last season’s Arkle Trophy winner Edwardstone in the two-mile contest is likely to warm up the coldest of winter’s afternoons. 

It promises to be a sensational day of racing with the meeting more than living up to its name. Gold Cup hopefuls will put their credentials to the test in the Grade 2 Paddy Power Cotswold Chase. Betfair Chase winner Protektorat, Grand National hero Noble Yeats and old favourite Frodon are among the possible runners. Top staying hurdler Paisley Park is likely to attempt to land the Grade 2 DahlBury Stallions at Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle for a record fourth time. Grade 1 winners Dashel Drasher and Gelino Bello are also among the entries.

Cast your eyes to Doncaster

There are also Festival trials for novice and juvenile hurdlers, as well as the Glenfarclass Cross Country Chase over the unique obstacles in the middle of the main track. Not to be out done, there is a quality jumps card at Doncaster. The historic Sky Bet Chase is supported by three Grade 2 prizes at the Yorkshire track. Former Champion Hurdler Epatante – twice runner-up behind stablemate Constitutional Hill this season – is among the entries for the Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle. The fields for the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle and the Watch Off The Fence On attheraces.com Lightning Novices’ Chase are shaping up to be cracking contests. They are also set to race over jumps at Uttoxeter on Saturday, as well as on the all-weather at Kempton and Lingfield. 

Nicky Henderson with Epatante

Fingers Crossed

The weekend racing kicks off with some decent mares’ races on Friday. The Listed Pertemps Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase is the feature race on Huntingdon’s card. Jeremys Flame – trained in Ireland by Gavin Cromwell – could make the trip over. Recent winners Zambella and Tweed Skirt could provide her with stiff opposition. Doncaster also kicks off its two-day meeting with a Listed race. The Sky Bet Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle has attracted some decent entries. It’s the feature race and is supported by some competitive handicaps and novice contests. 

With temperatures forecast to stay above freezing, it’s a case of ‘fingers crossed’ ahead of the midweek jumps meetings. There are scheduled cards on Wednesday at Warwick and Catterick, with Wetherby and Wincanton hosting cards on Thursday. If the recent freeze does stick around there is plenty of all-weather Flat racing ready to take up the slack if there are any abandonments. If the mid-week jumps cards do beat the weather, they would serve as some mouth-watering appetisers to the tastiest feast of racing action over the weekend.