Man On The Spot: Score with Maul
Man On The Spot previews the opening day of the International meeting at Cheltenham on Friday.
Rolling Maul (r) can win the Citipost Handicap Hurdle
Emerging Force hasn't done much wrong so far, winning at Hereford and Exeter, though this is easily his toughest task to date. Relentless Dreamer, Singlefarmpayment and Laurium all attempt to make the step up from handicaps but the latter was well behind Emerging Force on his penultimate start and looks to have little chance of reversing those placings, despite better terms. ARPEGE D'ALENE was a disappointing favourite on his fencing bow at Chepstow but appreciated a stiffer test of stamina at Aintree and could follow up here if the blinkers work a second time. Label Des Obeaux probably came up against a smart novice in American at Exeter and, aged just five, can only improve.
Troubled Soul had Song Saa and Hollow Bay well behind when second last time at Warwick. Yes I Did has scope after beating two rivals at Fontwell, though she'll stay further than this. Emerald Rose arrives off the back of a win at Market Rasen while Treaty Girl will have learnt plenty from her third at Huntingdon but Still Believing looks thoroughly exposed. DAWNIERIVER (NAP) was beaten half-a-length by Queen Spud when chasing a four-timer at Fakenham but she's a couple of pounds better off here and may be capable of picking up the winning thread again with the drop in distance and quicker going in her favour.
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This looks a strong renewal but Southfield Theatre has to go on the short-list as he would surely have won a Listed handicap at Wincanton last month had he not come down. Theatre Guide fared better than Regal Encore in the Hennessy but Colin Tizzard also runs the lightly-weighted Bally Longford, though he takes a massive step up in trip. Sausalito Sunrise and Ballynagour have a touch of class and Perfect Candidate is a standing dish here and will strip fitter for a comeback run. But Cogry's confidence must be at rock-bottom and neither Un Ace nor Out Sam have excelled around here in the past. With Shutthefrontdoor still out of sorts, this looks a good opportunity for A GOOD SKIN as he was rallying strongly over 3m at Ascot last time and deserves a change of luck.
Two of Enda Bolger's four entries at the four-day stage stand their ground and Cantlow can confirm Punchestown running with stablemate Auvergnat. The pair are aiming to give their trainer a third success in this in the last six years. BLESS THE WINGS finished fourth in this last year and was second at the Festival in March. He gets the nod as he holds Third Intention on the form book. The quirky Bertie Boru could be just the type for a race like this, though is racing from out of the handicap proper. Czech raider Delight My Fire is preferred to stout stayer Goonyella and Gallo's Star of the others.
Few of these are easily dismissed, though the strong-travelling Valhalla again found little at the business end when only fourth behind Anteros here last month. Sophie Leech's charge has been raised 7lb for that but can't be ignored while Herbert Park made the in-form Tobefair pull out all the stops at Chepstow last week. The Eaglehaslanded was in good form in the spring but hasn't raced since May while this trip has proved beyond L'aigle Royal in the past but the novice Templeross proved his stamina at Ffos Las and his rider claims a handy 10lb. ROLLING MAUL reverts to hurdles after a couple of decent runs over fences but is on a fair mark at present and should be hard to keep out of the frame. For Good Measurehas ability but is proving hard to win with.
Martin Keighley had the winner of this last year and his Bobble Emerald arrives on a hat-trick. So does Taurito, though his form in the Czech Republic is more difficult to evaluate. Eddiemaurice has also been in terrific form while Whatduhavetoget came up against a smart mare in La Bague Au Roi at Wetherby. Solatentif only found one too god here last month but may find this too short on a quicker surface. AIR HORSE ONE has always given the impression he's capable of better and is starting to look well handicapped. He is weighted to reverse January running at Warwick with Allee Bleue so gets a tentative vote with Maestro Royal continuing to disappoint. Kapstadt looks best of the rest.
Nicky Henderson's pair, Gaitway and William Henry, are both returning from lengthy lay-offs but are interesting nonetheless. Poetic Rhythm has smart bumper form to his name but gives the impression he'll be better over further. Ballyhill carries a double penalty and the form of his two wins haven't really worked out but there should be more to come from Warwick scorer Midnight Maestro and the hat-trick seeking Misterton. SUMKINDOFKING steps up in grade after making a winning start over timber at Southwell but should be up to the task as he's held in high regard by connections. Brio Conti was too keen at Haydock last month and will need to settle better if he's to fulfil his potential.
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