Make a Monkey with Kingdom
Man On The Spot previews all of this afternoon's action at Cheltenham on day three of the Open Meeting.
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1310 Cheltenham Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase
Rebel Rebellion made a perfectly satisfactory chasing debut at Exeter under Ruby Walsh last month and looks a useful recruit to the novice chasing ranks. As yet, the form of that race has not worked out too well and CAPTAIN CONAN is preferred, making his fencing debut for the Henderson team. A Grade 1 winner last term when landing the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown, the French-bred gelding ended his novice hurdle campaign with an excellent second to stable companion, Darlan, at Grade 2 level at Aintree. He rates a potentially exciting addition to the novice chasing division. His Excellency and Third Intention finished first and second here last time and there should be little between them once again, while it would be dangerous to ignore the claims of Sire De Grugy, a stylish winner on his Kempton chasing debut last month.
1345 Cheltenham Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap Hurdle
Endless chances in an impenetrable-looking handicap but it's interesting to see Captain Sunshine out so quickly after his unusual refusal to race just four days ago. He's certainly one to note if jumping off here but Barry Geraghty enjoys a good record for Jessica Harrington and their representative, MALLER TREE, is taken to follow up a comfortable Naas success late last month. He's admittedly more exposed than many of these but sets a sound form standard and houses solid claims in a difficult punting puzzle. In contrast, there are plenty of unexposed sorts open to any amount of improvement, notably Close House, Ruben Cotter and Well Sharp, all of whom arrive on the back of notable absences. Irish raider Baresi shouldn't be discounted either as the consistent son of Milan turns up on the back of a very good Limerick effort just a week ago.
1420 Cheltenham Shloer Chase
It's welcome back to the most exciting sight in National Hunt racing - SPRINTER SACRE. The concession of weight all round should prove little hindrance to the Nicky Henderson superstar who created such a magnificent impression throughout his novice chasing campaign. He jumped round here in spectacular fashion when routing Cue Card and company in the Arkle at the festival and is unopposable on his seasonal reappearance. Wishfull Thinking is a useful tool in his own right and looks the obvious one for forecast punters after finishing second in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last time. Doeslessthanme is next best as he was much improved last term for Paul Nicholls. However, he has never been asked to participate at such an elevated level before and we'll find out more about him here.
1450 Cheltenham Racing Post Hurdle
The usual high-class entry sees Darlan set off on a journey which may well end back here next March on Champion Hurdle day. However, he will need to prove himself a hurdler of real stature here despite topweight to go down that particular route with his yard enjoying a potential embarrassment of riches in the 2m hurdling division. He may well be good enough to oblige but this is his first run of the new campaign and DOMINATION makes plenty of appeal in receipt of over a stone from the Henderson charge. Last seen when romping away with an ultra-competitive Newmarket handicap, Charles Byrnes' inmate has the look of a major improver, housing room for significant improvement over timber where he remains relatively unexposed. He receives the vote here off what may well be a lenient mark at this stage of his hurdling development. Prospect Wells only just failed to overcome stablemate Zarkandar on favourable terms in Wincanton's Elite Hurdle which still rates a strong effort against a rival likely to take very high rank this term. Harry Derham's 7lb claim could prove most valuable in such a competitive affair whilst Snap Tie can never be ruled out in these high class handicaps. The progressive Cash And Go and the consistent Bothy are also worth a second look.
1525 Cheltenham Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle
According To Trev delivered a really gutsy performance when outbattling Our Vinnie here last time and another strong run is anticipated. However, this rates a tougher assignment and he's likely to be less well suited by a significant drop in trip. FOX RUN was most impressive on his racecourse debut at Worcester last month over a furlong less than this trip and it's interesting that the champion trainer pitches him in at the deep end here at Grade 2 level. The hint may be worth taking with any amount of improvement likely to be forthcoming. Village Vic ran well here behind The New One last month and another good account is expected whilst C&D winner, Bondage, is an Irish raider demanding attention. He looks the each-way value in an intriguing affair, in which the unexposed I Shot The Sheriff is also of interest.
1600 Cheltenham Cheltenham Standard Open NH Flat Race
A potentially high-quality bumper in which the outcome is likely to revolve around the respective levels of improvement made by the leading players. Tony McCoy has an outstanding record in these contests for Rebecca Curtis so his decision to partner Westward Point for Warren Greatrex, a most impressive scorer on his Worcester debut, jumps off the page. However, the Curtis representative, MONKEY KINGDOM, was far from disgraced behind Southfield Theatre here last time and his useful conditional's 10lb claim could be all-important. He represents a value option and has strong each-way claims. Fascino Rustico has his first start for Paul Nicholls after landing a Carlisle bumper for Ron O'Leary and is clearly well thought of by connections, whilst Hannibal The Great did the job nicely on his Plumpton debut too. Keep an eye on The Liquidator on his first run for David Pipe as he looked a useful sort in the making when runner-up at Fairyhouse back in April when seemingly unfancied.