Saturday 30th January 2016, 1.50pm - Betbright Chase
This weekend is a massive one for racing fans as Cheltenham gets ready to host Trials Day and the card looks jam packed full of equine stars. The Betbright Chase (Cotswold Chase) has grown into a more than decent Gold Cup Trial in recent years and that looks even more the case this season with Djakadam set to take his chance in the field.
The Willie Mullins trained 7-year-old goes to Cheltenham this weekend as the current ante-post favourite for the Gold Cup in March and it is easy to see why when you take a look at his profile. He ran a stormer in the Gold Cup last year to chase home Coneygree at the age of just six and many are predicting him to go one better this season.
It was a truly remarkable performance in the 2015 Gold Cup from Djakadam given his age and he looked as good as ever last month when he made his seasonal debut at Punchestown in the John Durkan Chase. He comfortably won that Grade 1 Chase that day in testing ground down at 2m4f as he proved he had both the speed to win over that trip to go with the stamina he has already shown during his career,
Djakadam will start a very short priced favourite for the Betbright Chase on Saturday and should be far too good and progressive for this field although it should be noted that the last horse to win this race and the Gold Cup in the same season was Looks Like Trouble in 2000.
There is no doubt that Djakadam is the one to beat on Saturday but he will face one or two more than decent opponents. One of those will certainly be Many Clouds who won this race last season and will be using it this year as the ideal prep for the defence of his Grand National crown in April
Smad Place is another very good opponent for Djakadam with his stunning display in the Hennessy Gold Cup last November still fresh in the mind. The Alan King trained grey was 2nd in the Betbright Chase last season and should set a strong gallop as connections decide whether the Gold Cup or the Ryanair Chase is his target at Cheltenham in March.
Former RSA Chase winner O'Faolains Boy will also take his chance although he could struggle in this company with the conditions not testing enough you would think, whilst Sam Winner will also run for Paul Nicholls but it is hard to see him having the class to mix with with the likes of Djakadam on Saturday.
There is no doubt that Djakadam is the one to beat here and in truth he should be far too good if he is to confirm his position as the Gold Cup favourite,. Smad Place will offer him a very solid yardstick that's for sure and how he fares against him should tell us plenty more about the chances of Djakadam in the spring.