National Hunt fans are in for a real treat this weekend as Cheltenham host their cracking trials day fixture with the Festival now just around the corner. This is the final meeting of the season at Cheltenham before the four day spectacular in March and thousands will pack the stands for a great day of sport. It is always a hugely popular card with both fans and punters with Festival clues aplenty likely to be on offer this weekend.
Course and distance form at Cheltenham is always important when looking to find Festival winners and looking through the entries for Saturday, we are likely to be in for a real treat. The Cleeve Hurdle has grown into the key trial for the World Hurdle down the years and once again we can look forward to a spectacular contest. The stayers hurdle division has been much more wide open in the wake of the Big Buck's era and the Cleeve is looking like an excellent one this season.
Saphir Du Rheu has been switched back to hurdles by Paul Nicholls after an aborted chasing career (similar to Big Buck's was) and he is very much one to watch in the Cleeve Hurdle Betting. He is clearly expected to run well on his return to hurdles but he won't have it easy up against the talented Beat That who is set to run for Nicky Henderson. He was a Grade 1 winning novice hurdler over three miles last term and many are expecting big things from him this weekend as he gears up for a World Hurdle tilt in March.
Elsewhere on Trials Day, we can look forward to the Betbright Cup (formerly the Argento) which does tend to act as a decent race with the Gold Cup in mind. Entries for this one include Dynaste, who has the Ryanair or the Gold Cup as options in March, and Many Clouds, who won the Hennessy back in March and is on target for the Gold Cup in March if he runs well this weekend. One other runner we should mention is The Giant Bolster who always seems to run well at this meeting and is sure to be fit and ready to go as something of a course specialist.
The Triumph Hurdle Trial is also a nice little race as we get another chance to see some of the best juvenile hurdlers in training strut their stuff. All eyes will be on Peace And Co who dotted up on debut at Doncaster for Nicky Henderson and the team at Seven Barrows will be hoping he can follow that up here in a tough field. He will have some decent opposition on Saturday with the likes of Ibis Du Rheu and Starchitect both set to run and we should find out plenty more about Peace And Co this weekend.
Add to those races a couple of top class handicaps and a Neptune trial and we are set for a thrilling day of sport at Prestbury Park. The weather is set fair at the moment but it is likely to be a chilly one as thousands pour into the course on the last race day before the Festival.