Man On The Spot: Will to win

Man On The Spot previews Saturday’s quality action at Cheltenham, featuring the BetVictor Gold Cup.

Will O’The West is among the Saturday selections

12:40 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2)

A bumper winner in France, DEFI DU SEUIL made a winning start over hurdles for Philip Hobbs with a facile odds-on victory at Ffos Las. He won’t mind if the forecast rain arrives and we’ll find out more about him today. Wealth Des Mottes also won in France before joining Paul Nicholls and the hurdles winner is preferred to the more exposed Nucky Thompson, successful on good ground at Warwick last month. Diable De Sivola has returned a losing favourite the last twice now but East Indies opened his account over timber in September with a victory at Plumpton. A winner on the Flat in France, Dino Velvet may well prove best of the remainder as he makes his hurdling bow.

13:15 Novices’ Chase

Last season’s World Hurdle winner at the Festival and current Gold Cup favourite, THISTLECRACK is impossible to oppose. He made a successful start over fences with a fluent display at Chepstow last month and a victory in this will further boost his confidence. Aqalim was never going to catch Colin Tizzard’s star when second at Chepstow but is still preferred to Ireland’s Marinero on these terms while Ballycross made a satisfactory debut over fences when second at Uttoxeter last month and should be winning in lesser company before long.

13:50 BetVictor Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

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Sausalito Sunrise has won at Ascot since landing last year’s renewal and is now 14lb higher. Those behind are all weighted to reverse running but second-placed Upswing was pulled-up on his reappearance, Cogry got no further than the first fence here last month and Shotgun Paddy has not raced since tailed-off in the Scottish National at Ayr in April. Alvarado was runner-up in the latter race and won this in 2013 while, along with Upswing, Jonjo O’Neill also runs last season’s National Hunt Cup winner Minella Rocco and progressive chaser Beg To Differ, who both return to action today. But FOURTH ACT made a pleasing reappearance when fourth in the Sodexo over 3m at Ascot last month. This longer trip should be no problem on that evidence, he’ll handle any cut in the ground and is preferred to stablemate Viconte Du Noyer.

14:25 BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Paul Nicholls runs four and three of those won last month. It will be some feat if the progressive four-year-old Frodon defies a penalty in this company but he already looks a star chaser in the making while As De Mee is upped in class after scoring at Fontwell. Art Mauresque narrowly beat Double Shuffle at Chepstow recently but was beaten off a lower mark in this last year when behind the winner Annacotty and runner-up Buywise. The latter may well reverse running on better terms this time round but MORE OF THAT is preferred. He was ahead of As De Mee and Double Shuffle when landing a novice chase at this meeting in 2015, his first start for nearly a year, and ended last season with a third in the RSA Chase here. Jonjo O’Neill’s charge is preferred to stablemate Taquin Du Seuil and can make another successful reappearance. Colin Tizzard is attempting to bring new inmate and Grade 1 winning novice Sizing Granite back to his best and connections will be hoping Thomas Crapper rediscovers his form in a first-time tongue tie.

15:00 BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Several of these revert to the smaller obstacles on their return to action including Grade 2 winning novice chaser Irish Saint. He’s preferred to stablemate The Eaglehaslanded while Fingal Bay last won over timber in 2014 and is 6lb higher today. Out Sam won a couple of chases at the start of the year but Valhalla was placed in a hurdles race over a shorter trip here last month and can go well again raised 3lb. WILL O’THE WEST (NAP) also has a recent run under his belt when beaten less than a length over 3m here by Golden Doyen. Henry Daly’s charge looks to have a slightly easier task in this and can gain compensation. Some Kinda Lama is progressing well but upped in class off an 8lb higher mark and Very Extravagant also faces a tougher task bidding for a four-timer but Goodbye Dancer can figure again judged on a recent second at Aintree.

15:35 Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle

Paul Nicholls relies on BLACK CORTON in this. The latter won a Listed novices event at Kempton by 10 lengths last month and can land his first handicap. Who Dares Wins looks first-string ahead of Board Of Trade of Alan King’s duo having run well for fourth in a Grade 3 handicap at Chepstow recently and For Good Measure has every chance on his latest second over 3m here. Midnight Shot and Traditional Dancer bid for trebles off higher marks with the former winning here last month while Red Infantry escapes a penalty for picking-up a conditionals’ race at Sandown just six days ago. Arctic Gold and Fortunate George return to action off 7lb higher marks having both ended last season with wins and Meme’s Horse is upped in class after landing a maiden at Newton Abbot in April.

16:05 High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire’s Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed)

BRILLARE MOMENTO just missed out on her return to action when runner-up over track and trip three week ago. Richard Johnson takes over the reins today and she’s preferred to the recent winners Irish Roe and Tokaramore, both unbeaten in bumpers, and last month’s Aintree winner Miss Night Owl. Point winners Ms Parfois, Hitherjacques Lady and Naranja all made winning starts in bumpers back in April while Queen Odessa won at Doncaster at the start of the year. My Khaleesi had a tough task in a Grade 2 at Aintree when last seen in competition and Melangerie makes most appeal of the newcomers for Nicky Henderson’s yard.

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