Thursday, 16 November 2017

November Meeting: Phil Middleton and James Bowen out to break Cheltenham maiden with Exitas

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Phil Middleton believes Exitas is 'better than ever' as he hopes to provide his in-form trainer with a milestone first victory at Prestbury Park.

The nine-year-old won narrowly at Kempton, before enjoying a hugely impressive seven length romp in listed handicap company at Ascot last weekend.

He has been risen 10lb by the handicapper, but Middleton is confident especially after enlisting claimer James Bowen for the ride, who is also seeking his first Cheltenham winner.

"He has come out of Ascot really well. He is busting to go and seems better than ever," said Buckinghamshire-based Middleton.

“He has gone up 10lb following his win at Ascot, which was to be expected. He came right away from them at Ascot and was very impressive.

"When he is really on song and winning over two miles, he looks like he wants further, but he has never been at his best when I have tried him. You need to stay well to win at Cheltenham, even over two miles.

“All ground comes alike to him. If I had to choose, I would like a bit of dig as it slows the others down a bit.”

Ian Williams, who won the Elite Hurdle with London Prize last weekend, saddles Kapstadt whilst Paul Henderson is hoping to repeat last year's success with Un Beau Roman and Doitforthevillage.

Colin Tizzard is double handed with Shanahan's Turn and Mick Thornic both taking their chance, meanwhilst Jonjo O'Neill's Festive Affair is joined by Rock On Rocky and Bright New Dawn also feature.

In the Fairlight Books Novices' Handicap Hurdle (1:15) Counter Shy could run a big race for Jonjo O'Neill. The four-year-old won well at Worcester before finishing second at Uttoxeter.

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