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Quentin Collonges fancied on International Meeting’s first day

| 13.12.2013

Cheltenham’s International meeting gets underway with four races decorating the box on Channel 4, acting as a precursor to the International Hurdle and December Gold Cup that takes place on Saturday.

13:40: Zafranagar 6/1

Tom Scudamore takes the ride on Ian Williams’ gelding and is preferred to Maxi Chop, who is yet to win over hurdles in seven attempts.

Both Daryl Jacobs’ ride and Venetia Williams’ Uhlan Bute, who’s had just a week’s rest, arrive as the market leaders. But Zafranagar, who was ridden out to beat Canadian Diamond by half a length last time out, is a course and distance winner with four hurdles victories to his name.

14:10 Quentin Collonges 8/1

An impressive third place in the Hennesey Gold Cup last time out sees Theatre Guide arrive as favourite for Colin Tizzard and should figure in the final stages off just a 2lb higher mark, but Quentin Collonges gets the nod despite unseating the rider at the final fence last time out.

Both trip and ground suit the horse, whose trainer Henry Daly boasts a 24 per cent strike rate this season, returning a profit of £30.86 from a level £1 stake.

14:40 Keep On Track 5/2

Cross country expert Enda Bolger sends Keep On Track back out 27 days after watching the six-year-old slip up on the final bend last time out, when looking on course for a winning cross country chase debut at Punchestown.

Now well in on the weights, Keep On Track is taken to better Any Currency, Chicago Grey and Sire Collonges who finished third, fifth and sixth respectively when meeting over course and distance last time out.

15:15 Southfield Theatre 3/1

Paul Nicholls and Daryl Jacob lost second on a nose to Salubrius here last time out, a race that Return Spring won by a shoulder.

But with this being contested over a shorter trip, Southfield Theatre is taken to continue his improvement over Thomas Crapper, who is untried at the distance and Sunnyhillboy, who continues to free fall down the weights with no upturn in form.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.