Horse Racing tips: Top contenders for Paddy Power’s ’45 Sleeps to Cheltenham’ Cotswold Chase

Paddy Power's Graham Byrne previews Saturday's race

Native River Jonjo O'Neill Jnr Newbury February 8, 2020

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*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules

The Paddy Power ’45 Sleeps to Cheltenham’ Cotswold Chase is the key Gold Cup trial this Saturday as Cheltenham hosts Festival Trials Day. Here are six of the leading contenders for the 3m1f event.

Santini

The field is headed by last year’s winner SANTINI. Nicky Henderson’s nine-year-old used this race last year as a springboard towards a bold Gold Cup bid, where he finished runner-up, just behind Al Boum Photo. Santini has had two outings this season, at Aintree where he was runner-up in a messy race in which numerous obstacles were dolled off and when fifth in the King George VI Chase. He loves this venue and trip and is clearly the one to beat if he can put his recent disappointing run behind him.

Bristol de Mai

Last year’s runner-up, BRISTOL DE MAI, is in the mix again. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gallant 10-year-old put up a great fight last year as he went down by just over three lengths, and he should be bang there again if his recent Betfair Chase victory form is repeated. The lingering suspicion is that Bristol de Mai is much better around Haydock having never previously won at this venue. But the grey would be a very popular winner if he can put his Cheltenham hoodoo behind him.

Cheltenham-Bristol-De-Mai-&-Santini-Cotswolds-Chase

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Saint Calvados

SAINT CALVADOS looks one of the most fascinating runners in the field. Harry Whittington’s eight-year-old looked like a star in the making when he went down narrowly to Min in last year’s Ryanair Chase – he also had none other than A Plus Tard behind him in third. That was top notch form and he was entitled to take his chance in the King George. He travelled beautifully throughout with the winner, Frodon, before running out of steam and coming home in fourth. That effort will raise question marks over his stamina trying this further trip, but if he needed that run on his seasonal reappearance, he could be a player.

Lake View Lad

LAKE VIEW LAD put up a career best when landing the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase at Aintree last time out. Nick Alexander’s 11-year-old had Santini and Native River in behind him when he sprang a 16/1 shock. But the race was very much run to suit as Lake View Lad survived a blunder three out and took advantage of several fences being dolled off to win, getting 6lbs off the other two. He will be out to prove that was no fluke and while stamina is not an issue, it’s difficult to see him winning again on these terms in a tougher race.

Lake View Lad Brian Hughes Aintree December 5, 2020

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Yala Enki

Paul Nicholls has kept YALA ENKI busy lately. An excellent third place finish in the Welsh Grand National was followed up by a gutsy victory in the Portman Cup at Taunton last weekend. So, it was something of a surprise when Nicholls supplemented Yala Enki for this race. The Ditcheat handler reasoned “If it poured with rain on Thursday and Friday I would be kicking myself if I hadn’t put him in the race, though it is a tentative entry. He is hard to place off his mark of 161 and he has not got any kind of penalty in this race. Some of the others that are going to run in the Gold Cup might not want a slog at this stage round Cheltenham, so it could cut up.”

Selection – Native River

One runner who is guaranteed to love the race conditions is NATIVE RIVER. Colin Tizzard’s popular 11-year-old will be using this race to tune up for another tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race he won in 2018. There was a lot to like about the veteran’s effort in his reappearance behind Lake View Lad in that messy race at Aintree. He would have been completely unsuited by not having to jump the missing fences and I expect Native River to build on that run and give his stable a welcome big race winner.

*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules

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