Simon Holt: Temple of zoom
Channel 4 Racing commentator Simon Holt has two selections for the first day of The International from Cheltenham on Friday.
Templeross could take some passing up the hill
TEMPLEROSS, a horse who looked to be crying out for a test of stamina when a staying on fourth in novice company at Cheltenham (2m5f) in October, could be the pick of the weights on a return to Prestbury Park in Friday's Citipost Handicap Hurdle.
Upped to this trip of three miles next time, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained gelding showed a good attitude to fend off the persistent challenge of Walt at Ffos-Las and, in this bigger field with a likely strong pace, could take some passing up the hill.
What really takes the eye is that Templeross will be ridden by stable-conditional Tom Humphries who has won on three of his five rides this season for his boss and is able to claim 10lb.
Call To Order is another with a chance from the foot of the handicap and, after finishing third here to Behind Time at the November meeting over two miles five furlongs, also looks set to appreciate more ground.
Jonjo O'Neill's charge has potential but he lacked race-pace that day in softer conditions and, even though this three miles should be in his favour, I wonder if he will be suited by the likely quicker surface. If he handles it, Aidan Coleman's mount will be a threat.
Further up the weights, The Eaglehaslanded bids to make further progress after winning over this course and distance and at Warwick in the spring which has earned him a rating 17lb higher than when fourth in this race 12 months ago.
Recent course winner Anteros will have to defy a 7lb rise in the weights for what was a surprise (20-1) victory, and Herbert Park, a battling second to subsequent winner Tobefair at Ffos Las on good ground (Driftwood Haze third), is preferred amongst the others.
Earlier, SAUSALITO SUNRISE is fancied to defy top weight in the Unicoin Group Handicap Chase.
Philip Hobbs' gelding, a horse who seems to suit Richard Johnson's swashbuckling style of riding, was a winner on the Old Course early last season and later put up an impressive performance to slam Vieux Lion Rouge at Ascot before finishing third to The Young Master on good ground in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown (Southfield Theatre, now 6lb worse off, fourth, Theatre Guide eighth).
On his reappearance at the November meeting, Sausalito Sunrise ran well for a long way, disputing the pace with Shotgun Paddy in the race won by Viconte De Noyer, and the pair may have softened each other up for the late finishers.
He was still there with a chance turning for home but then weakened (reported afterwards to have lost a shoe) and, despite having to carry 11st12lb here, is not so badly handicapped running off a 6lb lower mark than the one he achieved for winning at Ascot.
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