What's On This Week? Racing All Over The Country

Features | 20th February 2023

There’s a string of Cheltenham trials for novices, several of the most competitive handicap chases
and a chance to put on your Sunday best for some high-quality hurdlers

Festival Hopefuls

Kempton’s card on Saturday will see several Festival hopefuls having their final prep runs before jump racing’s most important meeting of the year, which starts 17 days later. The novice chasers lock horns in the Coral Pendil Chase. Paul Nicholls has won this prize a staggering 12 times with the likes of Frodon, Cyrname and, last year, Pic D’Orhy. 

The champion trainer has entered Cap De Mathan and Solo this time. There’s two novice hurdles on the same card. Both have a happy habit of being won by future stars. Sire De Grugy, winner of the Champion Chase, is on the roll of honour for the Sky Bet Dovecot Novices’ Hurdle. The Grade 2 contest was won last year by this season’s Betfair Hurdle hero Aucunrisque. This year Hansard and Rubaud are among the entries. 

Subsequent Champion Hurdle winners Punjabi and Binocular are both former winners of the Coral Adnonis Juvenile Hurdle. It was won last season by Knight Salute. He went on to land the Grade 1 Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting. 

The Coral Trophy is another race with an illustrious history. Rhyme ‘N Reason and Rough Quest both won the quality three-mile Premier Handicap chase en route to Grand National glory. Desert Orchid, one of the best-loved jumps horses, carried top weight to victory in 1990. This year, another hugely-popular chaser tops the weights. Frodon won the King George over this course and distance in 2020 and he is likely to line-up six years after he landed the Pendil Novices’ Chase on this card.

Nationwide Racing

The final qualifying race for the Cheltenham Festival’s Pertemps Network Final is the highlight of Chepstow’s Saturday card. 

At Newcastle, some Grand National hopefuls will put their Aintree credentials to the test in the Eider Chase on the bumper eight-race card. The 4m1f contest was won last year by subsequent Scottish Grand National hero Win My Wings. This time, among the entries are the winner of last Saturday’s Grand National Trial at Haydock Quick Wave, Welsh National hero The Two Amigos and 2021 Eider victor Sam’s Adventure. 

Stamina will also be required for the runners in Friday’s Virgin Bet Devon National at Exeter. The course is located on top of Haldon Hill to the south of the city and is situated 260m above sea level making it Britain’s highest racecourse. 

Those are not the only high spots of a cracking week of racing as Fontwell hosts its big meeting of the year on Sunday. Enigmatic Goshen is among the entries. He could attempt to give trainer Gary Moore his third win the big race of the season at Britain’s only figure-of-eight jumps track. It’s surely the perfect way to finish the week