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Baby Mix Aims for More Cheltenham Success on Festival Trials Day

Cheltenham hosts an enthralling seven-race card on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 28, which is the last fixture at the home of Jump racing before The Festival in March.

Tom George

Tom George

Baby Mix, a hugely impressive winner at The International on December 10, will bid to cement his position at the top of the ante-post market for the JCB Triumph Hurdle in the £25,000 Grade Two JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial, which opens the card at 12.50pm. The two mile, one furlong event has been a good guide to the JCB Triumph Hurdle in the past, with recent winners Katchit (2007), Franchoek (2008) and Walkon (2009), all going on to win or be placed at The Festival in March.

Gloucestershire trainer Tom George has been delighted with Baby Mix since the juvenile’s facile victory on his British debut over the course and distance last month.

George, who is based at Slad, said: “I’ve been very happy with him, he does his work very easily, and he is where we want him really. He had a run over hurdles in France, plenty of Flat racing too, so experience is on his side and, touch wood, he wouldn’t need any more practice really.

“Our plan is to run him at Cheltenham on January 28 in the trial there, and then go straight to the JCB Triumph Hurdle - he goes well fresh, which he showed last time. He is a very quick horse, and he is a very good-moving horse, so I can’t help but feel the better ground will suit him more, but he is obviously versatile enough as he has won on the soft before anyway.”

The highlight of Festival Trials Day is the Grade Two £100,000 Argento Chase (2.30pm), staged over just short of three and a quarter miles. The prestigious contest will be supported by three further Grade Two events - the £25,000 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (12.50pm), the £25,000 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (3.05pm), and the £50,000 Cleeve Hurdle (3.40pm). The action is completed by the £25,000 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (1.25pm), the £40,000 Grade Three Murphy Group Handicap Chase (2.00pm), and the £21,000 Stellar Football ‘End Of Transfer Window’ Handicap Hurdle (4.15pm).

The Argento Chase often has a strong influence on the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. Last season’s renewal saw Neptune Collonges make all to win under an enterprising ride from A P McCoy, thus giving trainer Paul Nicholls his fourth victory in the race.

The 2000 Argento Chase was won by the Noel Chance-trained Looks Like Trouble, who returned to Prestbury Park two months later to capture chasing’s top event. The 1995 Argento Chase went to Master Oats, who beat the previous year’s heroine Dubacilla by 15 lengths. The pair returned to the course two months later to compete in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, filling the same positions and by exactly the same margin.

The other feature race on the card is the three-mile Cleeve Hurdle, which often serves as a good trial for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, and last year Grands Crus ran out a very impressive winner, before going on to finish a honourable second to Big Buck’s at The Festival in March.

The countdown to The Festival steps up a gear this week with the unveiling of the entries for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (Wednesday at noon), the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase (Thursday at noon).

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