Cotswold Chase Guide

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RUNNERS:

The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup victor Frodon is back at Cheltenham once again, this time stepping back into Grade Two company for the Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase.

Paul Nicholls' charge has been on a roll this term, with two victories from three, but also ran a cracker at Prestbury Park when finishing runner-up to Baron Alco in the BetVictor - again off top weight back in November.

The 7yo owned by Paul Vogt began this season with victory in this category in the Old Roan at Aintree, and a bold display once again will back-up his already strong market support for a second crack at the Ryanair Chase at the Festival back here in under six weeks time.

The challengers look very dangerous however, and Elegant Escape - crowned the Welsh Grand National winner over Christmas, arrives here with all guns blazing.

After his seasonal return at Sandown began with a win, the 7yo was not disgraced when finishing a good second in a messy Ladbrokes Trophy behind Sizing Tennessee, before achieving top handicap success at Chepstow.

Colin Tizzard's runner looks destined to continue over this staying distance at the upcoming Festival, by launching a crack at the Magners Gold Cup.

On his first start of the campaign, he finished a long way clear of Nicky Henderson's grey Terrefort, who we will be seeing for the first time since that major letdown.

The 6yo will be looking to relight that spark that saw him produce several glittering performances - most notably in last season's JLT, finishing best of the British candidates and only seven lengths behind Irish winner Shattered Love, who held the advantage with the mares allowance.

He has only raced five times in Britain; all over fences - three of which were wins; two in Grade One company.

Valtor - like Terrefort, sports the two-tone green colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, and will be looking to back up his one and only start in Britain to date - which was a victory in the Listed Garrard Silver Cup three days before Christmas.

The 10yo binned his entries last weekend for a shot at Grade Two glory, whilst Minella Rocco makes his long awaited return for Philip Hobbs.

The 2017 Gold Cup runner-up - who finished a shorthead in front of subsequent 2018 winner Native River, has been blighted by injury problems for the best part of a year, but is looking to make a late surge towards the big prizes between now and the end of the season.

Perhaps a tilt at the Grand National is on the horizon, but a useful runaround will be required here.

American has more P's in his form guide than numbers in the last twelve months, and faces a tough ask, whilst Black Corton - without the assistance of Bryony Frost, is also looking to get back to winning ways for the former Champion Trainer.

Allysson Monterg looks the outsider of the field for Richard Hobson.

TRENDS:

Lots of fans of the sport would agree that this time of year is frustrating for punters. There are not many features on at the moment, with all the focus primarily on the trials ahead of the most anticipated week in sport - the Cheltenham Festival in March.

However, the Cotswold Chase is an outlier to that and really sets the heart going. We have been treated to some real classics in recent seasons - the most famous of course was the battle in 2017 of the young pretender Thistlecrack, putting his unbeaten record over fences on the line, against the old campaigner Many Clouds, with the latter edging it on the line.

Unfortunately, that effort came at a cost, and Oliver Sherwood's former National winner lost his life after the race had completed. Looking back on it, it remains one of the greatest duals and finishes in recent times, and proved that whilst racing can fill us with so much joy and happiness, it can break our hearts at the same time.

Definitly Red won the contest twelve months ago; as a result has since gone onto bigger and better things - and who knows, could be this season's dark horse in the Magners Gold Cup at a good price.

Eleven of the last fourteen winners of this race went onto compete in that season's Gold Cup - sadly producing no winners, but all those just named finished eighth or better.

Looks Like Trouble in 2000 was in fact the last winner to go onto win the Cheltenham Feature.

Fourteen of the last fifteen winners had ran at Cheltenham over fences before, 8 of which winning. The same number had raced in the last eight weeks

Eleven of the last fifteen winners were aged either nine of ten years of age.

Ten of the last fifteen victors ran an at either Wetherby (3), Cheltenham (3) or Kempton (4) last time, with six of those 15 going onto win.

In this contest alone, no favourites have won this in the last fifteen attempts. This does not spell well for Frodon, with nine of those favourites placing. However Bryony can count on Paul Nicholls' half decent record in this contest - with two wins since 2004, and four in total.

The average winning SP in the last 15 runnings is 15/2.

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