Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 15:10 15/11/2014
Victories at Uttoxeter and Market Rasen off marks of 108 and 114 respectively are hardly those of a potential StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle winner but such was the impression left by the Phil Middleton-trained Exitas on his most recent start when spreadeagling his rivals in a Sandown handicap that the six-year-old is confidently expected to handle the step up in class at Prestbury Park and take the £100k contest at the 8-1 available with Ladbrokes.
The lightly-raced son of Exit To Knowhere looks well in with just a 5lb penalty to carry for that eight length win at the Esher track, a rise which is negated by the allowance claimed by jockey Charlie Deutsch, and with plenty more improvement likely to come the horse could easily end up with a rating well into the 140s before long. The stiff Cheltenham course and underfoot conditions should prove ideal for Exitas in a race that appears to lack the quality of previous renewals although top weight Vaniteux could yet develop into a Grade 1 performer, but the mount of Barry Geraghty faces no easy task carrying 11st 12lb.
One horse who could prove a big danger if recapturing his form when runner-up in the 2013 Champion Bumber is Regal Encore who's form over hurdles is very much in and out but on only his second start at the home of National Hunt racing and off a lenient mark of 130 Anthony Honeyball's son of King's Theatre is capable of winning a race of this nature and should not be overlooked at the 16-1 on offer with several bookmakers including Skybet and Betvictor.
Recommendation - 1 point each-way Exitas 8-1 Ladbrokes