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Man On The Spot previews Saturday afternoon's action at Cheltenham, including the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
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12:45 Cheltenham12:45 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial
Mcvicar has taken very well to timber and has decent claims of completing his hat-trick but the concession of weight to a couple of French imports representing the top two stables in the country may prove a bridge too far. The choice is FAR WEST, who receives 4lb from the Alan King topweight. Paul Nicholls' charge was mightily impressive on his Chepstow debut when giving the impression he could take high rank in this season's juvenile hurdle echelon. He is just preferred to a similar sort in Vasco Du Ronceray for the Henderson team, a facile winner on his first start in the UK when hacking up in a poor Hereford contest. He rates a potent threat, whilst Dovils Date, a smooth scorer on his Musselburgh debut, also warrants shortlist inclusion.
13:20 Cheltenham Rewards4Racing Novices' Chase
Sire Collonges and SEA OF THUNDER enjoyed a cracking battle here at the opening meet of the season last month when the former prevailed by a couple of lengths. There should be little between them once again but the Irish raider is just taken to reverse placings with the Nicholls charge on 3lb better terms. The runner-up also made a mistake two out that day which proved costly at an important stage of the contest, having otherwise jumped well. Our Father was something of a talking horse last term in a truncated campaign but has undeniable talent and it's interesting that David Pipe re-introduces him here in such a competitive affair. He is certainly a fascinating recruit to the larger obstacles. The Irish hand is further strengthened by Sraid Padraig and White Star Line in what should be a most informative contest.
13:55 Cheltenham 12:45 Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase
A staying chase which has attracted plenty of youngsters likely to be at the forefront of similar contests this term. Problema Tic enjoyed a fine first season chasing and was especially impressive when winning a classy contest at the Scottish Grand National meeting, whilst Teaforthree and Harry The Viking enjoyed a stirring battle royal when first and second in the National Hunt Chase at the festival meeting here in March. Both should go very well here with the former preferred of the pair in light of the 10lb claim of the promising Patrick Corbett. However, both are having their first run of the season and BRADLEY makes plenty of appeal off 133. He was noted staying on powerfully over 3m here last time behind Balthazar King and should be ideally suited by this longer trip, especially with that run under his belt. Galaxy Rock, second that day, is not ruled out either in a really attractive contest.
14:35 Cheltenham Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase
The usual high-quality renewal with the likelihood that many of these will be plying their trade outside of handicap company for the most part this term. GRANDS CRUS is not likely to offer too much in the way of value but he remains the most likely winner on the best of his form last term when developing into a most imposing novice chaser. He did disappoint rather at the Festival meeting but other efforts were right out of the top drawer and the family has enjoyed a terrific record in this race down the years. David Pipe seems certain to have him primed for this first assignment of the new campaign. For those seeking a value each-way alternative, Triolo D'Alene makes plenty of appeal off his featherweight with Barry Geraghty booked. He was also below par at the Festival back in March but has been given a lengthy break by the Henderson team and looks to have been prepared with this contest in mind. It is obviously impossible to ignore the claims of last season's most improved horse in training, Hunt Ball, whilst Al Ferof, despite his fair share of weight, looks sure to improve again this term and is the choice of Ruby Walsh from the Nicholls trio.
15:05 Cheltenham Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle
A Listed contest of some stature in which the highly progressive Themilanhorse is sure to be popular for the Nicholls and Walsh team - and quite rightly as he looks likely to have further scope for improvement. Lovcen has strong claims at his best too and should be involved despite topweight, whilst check out any support for the talented Bouggler on his return from a lengthy absence. However, it may be worth taking a chance with MONETARY FUND here despite his being a couple of pounds out of the handicap. He continues to deliver a good account, comes here in good nick after a battling Musselburgh win, and the Venetia Williams yard could hardly be in better form. Anything trained by David Pipe at this three-day meeting needs to be taken into consideration, so keep an eye on the unexposed Goulanes, winner of his only start over hurdles at Newbury back in the spring. He could be anything.
15:40 Cheltenham Centaur Novices' Handicap Hurdle
Roger Beantown went in to many a notebook when runner-up at Chepstow last time despite being beaten at odds-on. He should be spot-on now and is definite shortlist material and it would be no surprise to see him go one better despite the concession of weight all round. Ulys Du Charmil looks one to keep an eye on off an attractive mark but he hasn't been seen since May and last month's smooth Stratford scorer, Tanerko Emery looks a likelier sort. He had plenty in hand that day and could well have got in here lightly. However, the choice is Irish raider, BUY BACK BOB. It's interesting that Tony Martin has chosen to come here rather than take in a straightforward maiden hurdle task for which he would look nailed on. He has gone well on all three hurdling starts, has a strong catalogue of Flat performances to his name and AP McCoy has been booked for the ride.