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Paddy Power Cotswold Chase: runner-by-runner guide

By Tom Thurgood@tdthurgood
Sat 28 Jan 2023

The Paddy Power Cotswold Chase is the most valuable race on Saturday’s spectacular nine-race card at Cheltenham, featuring the rescheduled Grade One Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase. Enjoy every moment live on Racing TV!


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First published 11.30 on Wednesday; updated 14:00 on Thursday

1 Frodon

 (Pic: Focusonracing)
(Pic: Focusonracing)

Age: 11 Rating: 162 Odds: 15-2

He's not getting any younger but the old favourite has enjoyed a decent campaign, justifying strong market support to memorably win the Badger Beer Handicap at Wincanton – defying a welter burden of 12st – on his reappearance. He didn’t look comfortable in the Betfair Chase next time, but he was a late addition to the line-up and the early pace looked particularly keen (30 lengths quicker than Hitman in the opening half of his 2m5f graduation chase) but he stayed on OK for a distant third.

He showed good enthusiasm from the front at Kempton but ultimately had no answer for young rivals in the King George and we may see similar here, especially since this is much stronger than the Cotswold Case he won back in 2019. He’s worth his place and could conceivably nick a place.

2 Noble Yeats

 (Pic: Focusonracing)
(Pic: Focusonracing)

Age: 8 Rating: 167 Odds: 2-1

The Grand National winner arrives here after a career-best in the Many Clouds Chase, in which he showed a remarkable turn of foot on the run to the final fence. After jumping the third-last, he was 13 and a half lengths quicker to the line than Brave Seasca later on the card at Aintree despite that horse running over five furlongs fewer. There was not much difference in their earlier splits to explain the late disparity, either.

Noble Yeats is an easy jumper who doesn’t waste energy and looks a different article to the horse that was down the field in the Ultima last year after never getting into a rhythm at Cheltenham. His further experience and a smaller field – as well as trying the New Course now rather than the Old – should suit him better and he will have pace in front of him to suit his running style. I think he could be hard to beat.

3 Protektorat

 (Photo: Dan Abraham / focusonracing.com)
(Photo: Dan Abraham / focusonracing.com)

Age: 8 Rating: 170 Odds: 13-8

He would have finished an even better third in the Gold Cup last year but for bungling the last and he might be better this season, really impressing in the Betfair Chase on his return. They went a proper gallop in that race - from jumping the first, Protektorat got to the line 63 lengths quicker than the 132-rated Fontaine Collonges in the following course and distance race (strong form).

He won the Betfair Chase by jumping and travelling off a strong pace and he should get a similar set-up here with Frodon, Coole Cody, Happygolucky and Ahoy Senor in the line-up. Has to go well.

4 Ahoy Senor

 (Pic: Focusonracing)
(Pic: Focusonracing)

Age: 8 Rating: 161 Odds: 8-1

After a strange reappearance when last of five in the Charlie Hall he looks to be going the right way, his jumping notably improving on the second circuit when travelling well in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree and confirming the impression in the King George last time, jumping and travelling the best he has to date in senior company over fences before tiring on the turn for home.

The return to a left-handed track should suit better too, but reversing form with the likes of Frodon – never mind troubling the true market principals – still looks something of a tall order for a horse that has not taken the step from novice company so far in the same manner as contemporaries Bravemansgame, L’Homme Presse and Noble Yeats. Not a bad crop fro last season, admittedly!

5 Dusart

 (Pic: Focusonracing)
(Pic: Focusonracing)

Age: 8 Rating: 155 Odds: 12-1

One of the most lightly-raced runners in this field, he’s only had four runs over fences but does look a real stayer and the potential pace set-up here and extra emphasis on stamina might just suit him.

This would be his first start in senior company over fences and this is a hot race for a debut in open company, but he showed admirable tenacity and real staying power to beat Sounds Russian at Ayr last spring – it looked like he had no right to win after the last yet did so cosily by the line – and that horse has gone on to even better things this season. Dusart was giving him 2lb, too.

His inexperience isn’t ideal, but it’s not a real barrier to a decent showing here either – while horses with no more than four runs have an overall poor record in the Cotswold Chase, Santini won the race in 2020 for the same connections while American and Thistlecrack were both runners-up in 2018 and 2017. Dusart is coming from a humbler starting point but he has more to offer.

6 Sounds Russian

Age: 8 Rating: 161 Odds: 7-1

A real stayer, he did his best work in the closing stages when successful at Kelso on his reappearance and he certainly didn’t look out of place in the Many Clouds behind Noble Yeats on his penultimate start. While he had no answer for the winner, he made strong late ground in the straight when fourth – just a neck and a length behind runner-up Dashel Drasher – and again he was very strong at the finish when nearly landing the Rowland Meyrick from a hopeless position on Boxing Day.

This could be a well-run race and the accent on stamina is likely to suit him. There are class questions and he might be too far back to mount a genuine challenge, but he’s fancied to give a decent show - especially if the ground is testing.

Tom's verdict

Five runners have come out at the declaration stage and, with the likes of Happygolucky, Coole Cody, Cape Gentleman now absent, Frodon looks likely to be the main beneficiary as the sole front-runner. Ahoy Senor won't be far away but may sit just behind the pace like he did at Kempton, the best he's travelled in open company over fences.

The ground is described as soft at Cheltenham with the track still frozen in places. Clerk of the course Jon Pullin wants to get frost covers down on Friday ahead of a forecast overnight frost heading into Saturday so I'd expect the course to ride fairly testing on the day.

I've put in Frodon at 8-1 on my tissue and he's the only horse available at bigger odds currently, so he has to get the nod here at 9-1. The Betfair Chase was not the long-term plan and he was a late addition to that race, one in which he didn't look comfortable and with only his jumping keeping him in contention down the back straight. The early pace was pretty generous at Haydock, too. He can dictate things here and, on the New Course where he usually performs well, might just prove a tad more difficult to pass than his current odds suggest.

I have Protektorat at 13-8 on my tissue so he looks the right price to me, but I have Noble Yeats bigger than the current 2-1. He was the one I thought I'd be backing earlier in the week and I'm a big fan, but he looks underpriced to me and I may consider a lay on the day, especially if his price contracts further.

Find more top tips for Cheltenham here:

Five key runners for Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham

Paddy's Pick 5: tips for Saturday's £25,000 Cheltenham game

Dave Nevison: my best four bets for Cheltenham on Saturday

Paul Nicholls: guide to my Festival Trials Day team

Festival Trials Day: read what connections have to say

Johnny Ward: my best bet for Fairyhouse on Saturday

Road To Cheltenham: Time right to move for Arkle fancy at 20-1

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