Timeform Shortlist: Cheltenham, Saturday 26 January

Black Op
It is Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on Saturday

Timeform's free shortlist comes from Cheltenham on Saturday...

"...he looks interesting now reverting back to timber given his strong novice form..."

Timeform on Black Op

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12.40 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Finesse) (Grade 2) (1) 2m179y

Timeform Top Rated:
157 1. ADJALI Nicky Henderson Daryl Jacob
149p 7. OUR POWER Alan King Tom Cannon
146 2. NELSON RIVER Tony Carroll Harry Bannister

Analyst's Verdict:
Adjali went down only narrowly in Grade 1 company last time and can enhance Nicky Henderson's excellent record in this contest. Our Power is going the right way and could be up to giving him something to think about, while the fact Protektorat went off favourite in the C&D contest won by Nelson River last month suggests he's highly regarded by the Dan Skelton team.


1.15 Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase (2) 2½m127y

Timeform Top Rated:
156 4. AZZERTI Alan King Richard Johnson
155p 3. KILDISART Ben Pauling Daryl Jacob
155 1. SPIRITOFTHEGAMES Dan Skelton Harry Skelton

Analyst's Verdict:
Azzerti has gone up only 2 lb for Ascot and could be the answer to this tight affair with Richard Johnson taking over in the saddle for the first time. Spiritofthegames has been freshened up since a slightly disappointing run at Grade 2 level in November and it would be no surprise to see him get back on the up now. Kildisart has made a good start over fences and is also much respected.


1.50 Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Trophy Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (1) 2½m127y

Timeform Top Rated:
165p 2. JANIKA Nicky Henderson Daryl Jacob
163p 11. THE KINGS WRIT Kayley Woollacott James Best
162p 8. SIRUH DU LAC Nick Williams Lizzie Kelly (3)

Analyst's Verdict:
French-recruit Janika shaped really well on British debut after 9 months off when runner-up at Ascot 5 weeks ago, the only one to make any inroads into the winner's long lead, and looks a leading player with further improvement likely. The Kings Writ and Siruh du Lac are also highly progressive chasers and need considering.


2.25 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase (Grade 2) (1) 3m1f56y

Timeform Top Rated:
182 1. FRODON Paul Nicholls Bryony Frost
178 2. ELEGANT ESCAPE Colin Tizzard Tom O'Brien
178x 6. MINELLA ROCCO Jonjo O'Neill Richie McLernon

Analyst's Verdict:
Terrefort was a dual Grade 1 winner as a novice last season and can get firmly back on track having finished lame on his reappearance at Sandown in November. Elegant Escape is an obvious threat after his impressive win in the Welsh National at Chepstow, while Frodon is strictly the one to beat on ratings but this distance is possibly further than ideal.


3.00 Ballymore Classic Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) (1) 2½m56y

Timeform Top Rated:
152p 3. BREWIN'UPASTORM Olly Murphy Richard Johnson
148p 2. BIRCHDALE Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
146p 1. JARVEYS PLATE Fergal O'Brien Paddy Brennan

Analyst's Verdict:
Brewin'upastorm appeals as the type than can go all the way to the top, his powerful way of travelling his best attribute but perhaps his downfall (too free) upped to this trip in the Challow last time. With the benefit of that experience he can now make the breakthrough in Graded company at the expensive of Birchdale and last month's C&D winner Jarveys Plate.


3.35 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) (1) 2m7f213y

Timeform Top Rated:
172p 4. PAISLEY PARK Emma Lavelle Aidan Coleman
171 1. AGRAPART Nick Williams Lizzie Kelly
170 8. BLACK OP Tom George Noel Fehily

Analyst's Verdict:
An excellent renewal with Black Op taken to come out on top. Things haven't quite gone to plan for Tom George's 8-y-o over fences but he looks interesting now reverting back to timber given his strong novice form. Paisley Park has to be high on the shortlist after his Long Walk success, while Wholestone and Agrapart, who fought out the finish in this last year, need respecting also.


4.10 Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle (2) 2m179y

Timeform Top Rated:
155 9. FLASH THE STEEL Dan Skelton Harry Skelton
154 3. CHAMPAGNE CITY Tom George Jonathan Burke
153 11. MAQ)UISARD Chris Gordon Harry Reed (3)

Analyst's Verdict:
It's perfectly feasible to think Flash The Steel benefited from the application of a first-time tongue tie when making a successful handicap debut at Doncaster last month, rallying well to get on top having landed awkwardly 2 out. He can defy a 5 lb rise stepped up in class. Nelson's Touch continues to acquit himself with credit and is feared, ahead of Benny's Bridge who is totally unexposed.


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