Man On The Spot: Roll with it
Resident tipster Man On The Spot previews all seven races from Cheltenham's opening day of the Showcase meeting, with Tiger Roll fancied to win the novices' chase.
Tiger Roll is tipped for victory on Cheltenham's first day of the season
EL BANDIT's victory in the Grade 2 Persian War at Chepstow was a big step up on his earlier form. If he's improved again, he should have too much for Black Warrior, though Charles Byrnes' raider did well to land a competitive handicap at Cork back in August. Colin's Sister almost threw away certain victory at Chepstow with a last-flight blunder but she will have learned from that and looks a nice prospect. The same can be said of Templeross and Pickamix, though this is a big ask early in their hurdling careers.
Marracudja was a decent novice hurdler last season and promises to be just as good over fences judged on his wide-margin win at Newton Abbot, though he was keen enough that day and will need to settle better to get home around here. Ridestan only beat Neverushacon a nose at Gowran at the start of the month and the runner-up is 3lb better off. Both should beat Gambling Girl again but it's interesting that James Ewart has sent prolific hurdler Aristo Du Plessis here for his fencing bow given he could presumably have found him a much easier introduction in the north. Presenting Arms is getting a bit long in the tooth but BARON ALCO is only five so still has time on his side. Gary Moore certainly knows how to ready his novice chasers and his gelding goes well fresh. He is rated 140 over hurdles, having won three times last season and finished second in Grade 3, and is one to follow, especially when tackling further.
A typically-competitive handicap for the course in which several appear to have leading claims. Midnight Shot was a very easy winner at Fontwell earlier this month but the soft ground that day suited. Marquis Of Carabas was only beaten a neck on his reappearance at Wetherby while Washed Ashore arrives on a hat-trick after a couple of victories at Worcester. Ballinure has won two of his last three and Lord Wishes is another coming here in good form having won over fences at Wetherby nine days ago. Arctic Gold and Robin Of Locksley could also figure if fully wound-up while Valhalla was backed into favouritism on his return at Newton Abbot, though may find a few of these too speedy. POWERSBOMB must go well if the rain stays away as he's been consistent this year and is overdue a win. Mikey Fogarty rode him to success in a big field at Galway last year on similar going. Florrie Boy is another to consider.
TIGER ROLL (NAP) has already run eight times over fences but has many more options after proving he stays 3m with a decisive victory in the Munster National at Limerick. He's won twice here over hurdles, including in the Triumph Hurdle in 2014, so is on familiar territory and will be hard to beat. Heron Heights beat Duckweed easily at Clonmel and is rated 4lb higher than stablemate Full Cry but was more than 16 lengths behind the selection over 2m4f at Kilbeggan in June. Uttoxeter winner Cottersrock has yet to prove he stays this far while Tempestatefloresco has been struggling in lesser company.
Thomas Campbell built on a promising bumper debut when skating up at Kelso in May and looks the type to make a hurdler. Casper King has found one too good in each of his five career starts so there is now a question over his attitude and Garo De Juilley has more scope. Jumps bred, the latter won four times over 1m4f on the Flat last year and his long absence is not a concern. KHEZERABAD could be one to follow this season as he only ran twice last term and was highly tried on both occasions. He was pulled up in a Grade 1 at Aintree in April but had earlier run well in a Grade 2 at Kempton and should be a different prospect this winter. Ckalco Des Loges arrives from the point-to-point circuit with a lofty reputation and is also worth noting.
It will be a surprise if Cecil Corbett doesn't start favourite here. He has a penalty for a recent win at Punchestown but Gordon Elliott has booked leading amateur Jamie Codd, who rides this course well. Azure Fly was backed as if defeat was out of the question at Ludlow earlier this month but found one too good and has been raised a pound since. Take A Bow didn't beat much at Plumpton and is 7lb higher while Brownville was only fourth at Uttoxeter in June when attempting to follow up an earlier win at that track. Conas Taoi was much improved last season but hasn't raced since April, though won't fail through lack of stamina. VELATOR is another who stays well and he'll also enjoy the going. He is race fit and on a decent mark and the booking of Sam Waley-Cohen suggests a big run is anticipated. Neil Mulholland also runs Fingerontheswitch but he's struggled with his jumping so far over fences.
Old Guard defied a big weight to land this last year for Paul Nicholls but the three-year-old Cliffs Of Dover arrives from a different angle. There are only a couple below him in the weights and he's won three of his four hurdle starts, though was beaten fair and square by Nachi Falls on worse terms at Market Rasen. However, Nigel Hawke's juvenile was due to run yesterday at Newton Abbot. Tahira and Satellite may be capable of better but the latter, useful on the Flat, looked a lucky winner at Fontwell in August. Eddiemaurice and What A Scorcher will need more while Cyrius Moriviere's big weight may count against him. WISHFULL DREAMING was very impressive at Chepstow 12 days and has plenty in his favour again. Ciaran Gethings' claim almost halves his penalty and he should be too good for another penalised runner, Limerick winner Crystal Pearl.