The Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham took place on Saturday 28th January 2017.
An added bonus on Festival Trials Day this year was the addition of the £70,000 G1 Spectra Security Solutions Clarence House Chase to the race programme. The two-mile contest was rescheduled following its abandonment at Ascot on 21st January because of frost.
The race went the way of Un De Sceaux (Willie Mullins IRE/Ruby Walsh, 1/2 Fav) who powered home by an impressive five lengths from Uxizandre (Alan King/Barry Geraghty, 12/1), who made a pleasing return to action on his first start since capturing the 2015 Ryanair Chase at The Festival. Third horse home, Top Gamble (Kerry Lee/Davy Russell, 5/1), was another two and three-quarter lengths adrift.
Un De Sceaux took the lead after the ninth fence and there was never any real doubt about the result, with the nine-year-old relishing the underfoot conditions. This was a sixth victory at G1 level for Un De Sceaux.
Ruby Walsh said: “Fair play to the horse. He has had to travel to England last week to run at Ascot, which was called off, then go home, do a bit of work and then travel back again.
“It’s not just like travelling humans – it can be hard on them and it’s a testament to the horse that he was able to do it.
“He was long at the second-last fence but you let him at it, he knows what he wants to do. He was good at the third-last – he got really tight to it when he was charging down on my hands.
“A lot will depend on the ground at The Festival. When the ground got quick here last March, he didn’t quite have the pace for the Queen Mother Champion Chase but it is a bit easier on ground like that. He keeps going that gallop on ground like that and it makes it more difficult for the others.
“We will have to see what happens but he is more vulnerable on quick ground. On soft ground, he is very difficult to beat.”
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