Gold success is no Pipe dream
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's terrestrial television action from both Cheltenham and Doncaster.
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13:55 Cheltenham Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
The chasers Aerial and Mon Mome look worth opposing against some up-and-coming novices in this. Boyfromnowhere likes to force the pace and has already won at Uttoxeter and Ffos Las but it's a worry that he was easily picked off by the exposed Awaywiththegreys at Chepstow in between.
The latter was no match for CONEYGREE over 2m5f here next time in a race in which According To Trev could only muster the one pace in third. The longer trip today will suit Nigel Twiston-Davies' gelding but it's still difficult to see him reversing the placings with Mark Bradstock's impressive winner, who can complete the hat-trick over timber.
Useful pointer Ardkilly Witness made a winning start over hurdles at Towcester and is open to improvement and Midnight Appeal got off the mark when beating a previous winner at Hereford but Thomas Crapper may be out of his depth.
14:30 Cheltenham Paul Stewart Ironspine Charity Challenge Gold Cup
Walkon is bidding to follow in the hoofprints of Quantitiveeasing, who won this last year after finishing second in the Paddy Power. Alan King's grey has gone up in the weights since his run behind Al Ferof but the forecast rain would be very much in his favour and he's a serious contender.
It's difficult to see Paddy Power third Nadiya De La Vega turning the form around today. Astracad is also interesting, even though he's done most of his racing over shorter trips. He has won over 2m5f and, though he wouldn't want the ground to turn heavy, will be all the better for his comeback run. Paul Nicholls runs Down Royal Grade 2 winner Cristal Bonus and promising novice Unioniste but the former has never sparkled around here while the latter is 6lb out of the handicap and just as interesting is Wishfull Thinking.
A real Cheltenham specialist, he wasn't troubled to land the odds over 2m here last time though could get anchored by his big weight today. We're inclined to take a chance on NOTUS DE LA TOUR, who goes well fresh, wouldn't mind some rain and looks reasonably treated. He was trying to give Walkon 8lb when beaten under nine lengths at Exeter last season yet gets 4lb now.
14:45 Doncaster BetVictor.com Summit Juvenile Hurdle
Sametegal won a Listed race at Wetherby on his UK debut and will make a bold bid to follow up here. But VASCO DU RONCERAY's second to Far West at Cheltenham looks the stronger form and Nicky Henderson's French import can land this Grade 2 even though Jeremiah McGrath won't be able to claim his allowance.
Of the others, there's probably more to come from Market Rasen winner Kashmir Peak while Counsel and Outback are no mugs. Mashaari won a competitive 2m2f handicap on the Flat at York for John Gosden and has the size to make a hurdler. He looks the pick of the newcomers ahead of Lysino.
15:05 Cheltenham StanJames.com International Hurdle
ZARKANDAR was beaten almost seven lengths behind Rock On Ruby in last season's Champion Hurdle but made an impressive return to action when conceding weight all round in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
Still only a five-year-old, he may well have improved over the summer and can take his revenge on Harry Fry's stable star, who is conceding 4lb here and hasn't run since April being a late withdrawal from the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on account of the heavy ground. He will be a force to be reckoned with again this term but may just need this.
Grandouet also returns from a break and wasn't quite the equal of the selection as a four-year-old. However, he beat Overturn in this 12 months ago and that is smart form. The others have a mountain to climb at the weights against the big three in this.
15:20 Doncaster BetVictor Non Runner Free Bet At Cheltenham Handicap Chase
A cracking finale and course winner Ikorodu Road could be interesting having found the company too hot in the Hennessy two weeks ago. Door Boy and Quentin Collonges are capable of running well fresh while Mistree Dancer has been in fine form lately and King Fontaine is very well treated on his best form.
Time For Spring won at Sandown last month and Court By Surprise showed his turn wasn't far away at Fakenham, though he might prefer a softer surface. Night In Milan is back over fences for the first time since scoring at Kelso in May but he might be too close in the weights to stable companion CORKAGE.
The latter is a bit of an enigma and was tailed off on his reappearance at Sedgefield but he has a much higher rating over hurdles and, something of a Doncaster specialist, could go very close in this if his jumping stands up to the test.
15:40 Cheltenham Unicoin Homes Relkeel Hurdle
OSCAR WHISKY won this 12 months ago when conceding weight to a small-but-select field and should take all the beating again. He made a smooth return to action in a Grade 2 at Ascot and it's difficult to see third Brampour getting much close here on similar terms. Crack Away Jack's second to Tidal Bay in a Grade 2 at Wetherby was confirmation that he is back to something near his best but it could be his future now lies over 3m or further.