Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco among eight entries for BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day this Saturday

Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - Eight entries have been received for the 2019 renewal of the £100,000 G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase (2.25pm), highlight of Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham this Saturday, January 26.
The three-mile, one furlong and 56 yard contest is a leading trial for the G1 MagnersCheltenham Gold Cup and seven of Saturday’s entries also are also engaged in the blue riband of chasing, which takes places on day four of The Festival™ presented by Magners, Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 15.
Minella Rocco, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and owned by J P McManus-owned, was a fast-finishing runner-up to Sizing John in the 2017 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, but has not been seen out since falling in the G1 Unibet Irish Gold Cup in February, 2018. Shortly after that run, Minella Rocco was reported as having had wind surgery.
The nine-year-old son of Shirocco won at The Festival™ presented by Magners in 2016, capturing the four-mile National Hunt Chase by a length and a quarter from subsequent 2018 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Native River.
Frank Berry, racing manager to J P McManus, said today: “Minella Rocco is in good form and the intention is to run in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase.
“He is also in the Sky Bet Chase, but I would think the ground is going to be too quick for him at Doncaster. Hopefully, we will be able to get him out at Cheltenham.
“He has been ready to roll for a few weeks there now, but we have not been able to run him because of the ground.
“This looks a good opportunity to get him out and hopefully he will run well.”
Nicky Henderson has two entries, both owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
10-year-old Valtor made the perfect start to his career in Britain when running away with the Listed Silver Cup Handicap Chase over three miles at Ascot on December 22. The former French chaser had been due to run under top-weight in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday, but was a non-runner.
 
Terrefort was one of the leading novice chasers in 2017/18, finishing runner-up in the G1 JLT Novices’ Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners in March before going on to G1 success at Aintree the following month. The six-year-old disappointed on his seasonal return when fourth and last in a Listed intermediate chase at Sandown Park on November 11.
The winner of that Sandown Park contest was Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard), who went on to finish second in the G3 Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase at Newbury before winning the G3 Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27.
The seven-year-old has yet to win in three starts at Cheltenham, but ran well to take third behind Presenting Percy in the 2018 G1 RSA Novices’ Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners.
Paul Nicholls is the most successful trainer in the history of the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase with four victories.
The 10-time champion Jump handler has two entries this year, headed by course specialist Frodon. The seven-year-old is a three-time winner at the Home of Jump Racing and became only the second dual winner of the G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup when successful in the 2018 running on December 15 under Bryony Frost. However, Frodon has yet to win beyond two miles and five furlongs.
Nicholls’ other entry is prolific winner Black Corton, successful in the G1 Kauto Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park in 2017 and part-owned by ITV’s Jeremy Kyle. He showed signs of a return to his best when runner-up in a Listed chase at Kempton Park on January 12.
Both Frodon and Black Corton have been regularly ridden by Frost.
Completing the entries for the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase are American (Harry Fry), runner-up 12 months’ ago but disappointing on his seasonal reappearance at Newbury, and Allysson Monterg (Richard Hobson), the only entry on Saturday who is not also entered in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Looks Like Trouble (2000), Master Oats (1996) and Little Owl (1981) landed both the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase and the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season, while the race’s roll of honour also includes another Gold Cup victor in See More Business plus Grand National winners West Tip, Neptune Collonges and Many Clouds.
Last year’s BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase was won by the Brian Ellison-trained Definitly Red, who went on to finish sixth in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup and is unbeaten so far this season, with G2 successes at Wetherby and Aintree.
The seven-race programme on Festival Trials Day runs from 12.40pm to 4.10pm and also includes the £60,000 G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (3.35pm, 2m 7f 213y, 14 entries), a leading trial for the G1 Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle.
Latest Going
The going at Cheltenham is currently Good, Good to Soft in places.
An unsettled week, with some rain, is forecast.
Scott Mills provides after-racing entertainment
DJ Scott Mills from BBC Radio 1 will be taking to the decks in The Centaur from 4.30pm to 6.00pm for the Festival Trials Day after-party.
Club and Tattersalls ticket holders will be able groove into the evening following the last race.
Festival Trials Day
 
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Time Race Distance Prize Money
12.40 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (Grade 2) 2m 179y £32,000
1.15 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase 2m 4f 127y £27,500
1.50 Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 4f 127y £75,000
2.25 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase (Grade 2) 3m 1f 56y £100,000
3.00 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 4f 56y £32,000
3.35 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 7f 213y £60,000
4.10 Steel Plate & Sections Handicap Hurdle   2m 179y £27,500
Total prize money £354,000
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