down cross

Hot views from the trainers as Middleton chases dream win with talented Exitas

Exitas wins the Byrne Group Handicap Chase at Ascot
1 of 1

1.50 Cheltenham
Betvictor Handicap Chase l Class 2 l 2m l 4yo+ | ITV4/RUK

Phil Middleton is out to register a landmark first win at Cheltenham with the progressive Exitas, who is on a hat-trick after successive wins at Kempton and Ascot.

After registering his first win since 2014 by a head at Kempton, the nine-year-old followed up in emphatic fashion when scoring by seven lengths in a Listed contest.

Up 10lb for that romp over Quite By Chance, Exitas is in the form of his life at home, according to his trainer, and hopes are high that he can get the yard on the board at the track after a few near misses.

Two of his eight rivals are trained by Paul Henderson, including last year's 25-1 shock winner Un Beau Roman, who has been laid out for another crack at the race.

What they say

Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to Colin Tizzard, trainer of Shanahan's Turn and Mick Thonic
We’ve had niggly problems with Shanahan’s Turn and it’s his first run for us. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him at home and has some fair form. He’s entitled to improve for the run and we just want to get a fair measure of where we are with him, but he’s schooled very nicely for Bryan [Cooper]. Mick Thonic was running a big race at Ludlow and just stumbled. He made a horrible mistake at Cheltenham last time but is in the right race and has a nice weight. He put up a nice performance at Cheltenham in April. 

Jonjo O'Neill, trainer of Festive Affair
He's probably in the grip of the handicapper but ran well the other day after a layoff and is entitled to have come on for that. He has an each-way chance.

Paul Henderson, trainer of Un Beau Roman and Doitforthevillage
This has been the target for both horses. Doitforthevillage blew up last time at Cheltenham and has come on for it. Un Beau Roman found the ground a bit quick last time but seems in similar form to last year, so it made sense to have another crack at it.

Paul Middleton, trainer of Exitas
It's always been my ambition to have a winner at Cheltenham and we've managed a few seconds, but Exitas would be my best chance so far. He's up 10lb for his win at Ascot but thankfully James Bowen is still claiming 7lb, even though he lost it a few days ago. The few days' grace mean the difference between 7lb and 5lb, which is a help. He's in the form of his life at home and should take all the beating in what isn't a strong race for the prize-money.

Ian Williams, trainer of Kapstadt
He put up a much better performance at Ludlow last time than on his chase debut. He looked that day like he’d be well suited by going left-handed and a stiffer test of stamina. He’s got previous form at Cheltenham over hurdles and we thought it’d be an ideal opportunity for him in what is quite a valuable event.

Read exclusive previews from 6pm daily on


It's always been my ambition to have a winner at Cheltenham and we've managed a few seconds but Exitas would be my best chance
E.W. Terms
Sky bet