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The Week Ahead
  1. Horse Racing

The Week Ahead: Trials Day at Cheltenham looms large

The cold snap will surely have abated by Saturday to leave Cheltenham front and centre as their Trials Day card now includes the re-routed Clarence House Chase as a bonus race.

It's the last day of racing at Prestbury Park this side of The Festival in March and, as always, a key day in the National Hunt calendar and one very likely to offer some clues in regards to what might unfold back in the Cotswolds in the spring. 

The start of the week looks uncertain with plenty of cards still under threat from the lingering frost. 

Follow all the UK and Irish racing action via the bet365 Sports Live Streaming platform as we look ahead to the next seven days.

Monday 23rd January

Four Monday meetings are scheduled across Britain and the outlook for racing seems good. 

Jumps fare should return at Ffos Las, while they are set to race on the synthetics at Kempton, Southwell and Wolverhampton (evening) – though forecast temperatures as low as -2C overnight are set to leave Kempton requiring an inspection of their surface. 

Soft-to-heavy ground is the order of the day at Ffos Las, though the Welsh track seemingly have no worries about racing going ahead. 

Their feature race is a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle over two-and-a-half-miles due off at 3.30 and the likes of Rocky Man for Dan Skelton and Harry Fry's Whitehotchillifili are amongst the contenders along with last-time-out Lingfield winner No Tackle for Sam Drinkwater.

Tuesday 24th January

Things lean more towards uncertainty for Tuesday. Market Rasen have already pulled stumps on their plans to race and the National Hunt meetings at Exeter and Leicester are pending inspections on Monday afternoon. 

No such concerns for the evening all-weather meeting at Southwell, while Ireland's first action of the week is set for Down Royal. 

The Belfast circuit stages the Franciscan Well Rated Novice Hurdle (1.15), where Gordon Elliott's Caldwell Diamond and An Mhi are both contenders alongside Ross O'Sullivan's last-time-out Wexford winner Champella and Fairyhouse handicap winner Kashi for Karl Thornton.

Wednesday 25th January

Midweek all-weather racing takes place at Newcastle in the afternoon before Kempton takes over in the evening. 

Jumps fans, meanwhile, will be hopeful that the tracks at Catterick and Warwick – frozen at the time of writing on Sunday – will have thawed out, while Irish action comes from Fairyhouse. 

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Assuming Warwick gets the go-ahead, they have a Mares' Novices' Hurdle (2.05) that could feature some promising sorts. 

It's been a good start to the training career of Harry Derham in recent weeks, with Paul Nicholls' former assistant already amongst the winners, and he counts beaten Ffos Las favourite Helenn Clermont among the possibles for this race.

Thursday 26th January

Jumps action on Thursday will come from Wetherby, Wincanton and Gowran Park – weather permitting – while they go on the Tapeta at Southwell in the afternoon and Newcastle later in the day. 

It is, of course, a major day for Gowran Park, the Kilkenny track that is local to champion trainer Willie Mullins, as they stage the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle (2.15) as part of the undercard to their big event of the year, the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase (3.25). 

Mullins' Franco De Port at 7/1 and the Gordon Elliott-trained Pencilfulloflead at 13/2 are amongst the ante-post contenders for the top prize. 

Earlier, the Galmoy Hurdle could feature Elliott's Teahupoo – conqueror of the mighty mare Honeysuckle in December's Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse.

Friday 27th January

On Friday there are jumps meetings at Doncaster and Huntingdon in the UK, while all-weather racing will come from Lingfield Park in the afternoon before evening fare at Wolverhampton and Dundalk. 

It's a more than decent start to the weekend, with Doncaster boasting a Listed Fillies' Juvenile Hurdle at 2.40, which could feature unbeaten Arclight for Nicky Henderson, while Huntingdon have the Lady Protectress Mares' Chase (3.00) as their feature race and will be hoping last year's winner Pink Legend joins the likes of Zambella and Tweed Skirt in the line-up.

Saturday 28th January

Cheltenham Trials Day gets the star billing in Britain on Saturday with further jumps action coming from Uttoxeter and Doncaster alongside all-weather meetings at Lingfield and Kempton (evening). 

Over in Ireland, it's Fairyhouse again on Saturday with the Grade 3 Solerina Mares' Novice Hurdle the centrepiece. 

Cheltenham already had four graded races on their card, including the Cotswold Chase (1.50) over the Gold Cup course and distance, and the Cleeve Hurdle (2.25) for the stayers, alongside trials for the Triumph Hurdle and Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. 

That card has now been boosted still further as the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase (3.35) takes a place a week later than planned following the freezing conditions that prevented Ascot racing on Saturday. 

It looks likely that 8/11 ante-post Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite Energumene will complete his prep for that March date by taking in this race for a second year running. 

Last year's Arkle winner and 11/4 second-favourite for the Champion Chase on 15th March, Alan King's Edwardstone could be his biggest rival in both races.

Sunday 29th January

Naas has a strong card on Sunday, with both the Finlay Ford At Naas Novice Chase and the Limestone Lad Hurdle holding Grade 3 status at the Kildare track. 

Meanwhile in the UK, action comes at Sedgefield and Fontwell to round off the week's racing.

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