Matt Chapman: I’ve our Escape route planned for Saturday’s Cheltenham Trials

It's a mega-Saturday of Festival trials at Cheltenham & Doncaster and mighty Matt Chapman has scoped out all the ITV action including Elegant Escape at 2.25pm ...



It’s Cheltenham Trails day on Saturday as we try to unearth some more clues ahead of the Festival which is just seven weeks away now.

A few reputations will be enhanced – or bubbles’ burst – so let’s hope we’re on the former at Cheltenham while there’s three races from Doncaster too.

We start on ITV with the 1.50pm at Cheltenham, a Grade 3 handicap chase over an extended 2m 4f. SIRUH DU LAC is edging up the ratings but still has a nice weight to carry her for jockey Lizzie Kelly and trainer Nick Williams. After decent wins at Exeter and Newbury he can get the hat-trick up.

They’ll need plenty of stamina for the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase over 3m 1f at 2.25pm and ELEGANT ESCAPE has that in abundance after landing the Welsh National. He’s not the next Native River for trainer Colin Tizzard, but I do think he will take all the beating here and become a live each-way chance for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He’s an improver, although officially has 8lb to find with Frodon and 1lb with Valtor.


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The Grade 2 novice hurdle for Ballymore Hurdle wannabes is at 3pm over an extended 2m 4f.

BIRCHDALE was taken out of a race last week, but he’s hugely promising and should take some beating for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty. Looked really good at Warwick last time.

We wrap up ITV’s coverage at Cheltenham with the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle over 3m at 3.35pm where Paddy’s paying the first five home.

Who knows what has happened to SAM SPINNER, but we’ll now get decent odds about a horse who on last year’s form should be favourite for this event. He seems to totally have lost the plot this season, but hopefully he will be better here for Jedd O’Keeffe.

ITV’s coverage at Doncaster starts with a Grade 2 novice hurdle at 2.05pm. It’s over an extended 3m and for possible Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle runners at the Festival. TRUCKERS LODGE has proven stamina and is the highest rated in the field.

Beaten at Chepstow last time but should get back to winning ways for Paul Nicholls.

It’s the turn of the ladies in the next at Donny, with the  Grade 2 mares hurdle over 2m at 2.40pm. LADY BUTTONS is not a good thing on ratings, but she was hugely impressive last time over fences and can take this prize despite being back over hurdles. She’s a little gem for Philip Kirby.

The curtain comes down at Doncaster with a 3m handicap chase at 3.15pm. WARRIORS TALE stays well and is in good form after a win last time at Aintree.

He ran really well in this last year and was unlucky not to score then. He is 6lb higher, but has a great each-way chance.

So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?

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