CHELTENHAM ground staff have deployed frost covers on the main track ahead of Festival Trials Day tomorrow (Saturday).
Eight of the nine races on Saturday’s superb card, which now includes the re-scheduled Clarence House Chase, will take place on the covered-up New Course.
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap is staged on Cheltenham’s cross-country circuit, on which only vulnerable parts have been protected by frost covers.
Willie Mullins has another strong hand this weekend with Un De Sceaux on course to run in the Clarence House, while Vroum Vroum Mag, who already holds six entries at Cheltenham including the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup, is bound for the olbg.com Doncaster Mares’ Hurdle on the same afternoon.
After a year off the track Fuagheen makes his comeback in the Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday.
Meanwhile the quality on show in Cheltenham’s bumper fixture will include Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase.
The brilliant King George VI Chase winner is unbeaten in four starts over fences, and his rivals could include 2015 Hennessy winner Smad Place and Many Clouds, who won the Grand National the same year, plus Vezelay, from France.
Harry Fry is in a rich vein of form and Unowhatimeanharry, hot favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle, is set to complete his Festival preparation in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle, whilst the exciting pair of Finian’s Oscar and Messire Des Obeaux could clash in the 2m 4f Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.
If the ground turns out to be good, I like the each-way chances of Thomas Crapper in the 1.10 even though he might end up a few pounds out of the handicap along with the Philip Hobbs-trained Wait For Me (4.35) who has the potential to be much better than his rating.
Doncaster has a good supporting card where Ziga Boy can pull off a repeat win in the Sky Bet Chase at 3.40, whilst Happy Diva (2.30) is a mare firmly on the upgrade.
My biggest bet, however, will be today (Friday) on imposing Frankel gelding Fashion Business in Lingfield’s maiden at 2.50.
• Carrigill’s nap this week is Coologue in Doncaster’s Sky Bet Handicap Chase (3.40), and if their selection does not finish in the top four punters will receive their money back as a free bet.
AUGUR’S BEST BETS: Fashion Business. Friday Lingfield 2.50
CARRIGILL’S NAP: Coologue. Saturday Doncaster 3.40
AUGUR’S ONE TO WATCH OUT FOR: The Fresh Prince. Expect trainer Oliver Sherwood to find a race in the next few weeks for this improving prospect.