Cloudy Copper ready for Rules debut but Provo the one to beat at Exeter
Big Buck's will be put through his paces with stable companion Cedre Bleu at Exeter racecourse today at 1.10pm – half an hour before the first race.
The pipe-opener is regarded by his trainer Paul Nicholls as a "day out" for the gelding, who is unbeaten in his last 17 runs and could make his seasonal reappearance later in the month, possibly in the Betfair Don't Settle for Less Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle at Haydock on November 24, a race in which Cedre Bleu also has an entry.
The first race is off at 1.40pm with the Aggregate Industries Stoneycombe Novices' Hurdle over two miles five furlongs, with Nicholls looking strong-handed with Provo, an easy winner over a furlong further at Wincanton in October.
AP McCoy is on board Irish point-to-point winner Cloudy Copper, who makes his debut under Rules, having stayed on well to win between the flags in March, while Mister Bricolage, one of three runners for Philip Hobbs, is another with Irish point-to-point form and could go well.
Captain Sunshine fluffed his lines at Cheltenham's October meeting when making a mistake in the Marie Curie Cancer Handicap Hurdle but he can make amends in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle, where he faces six opponents.
Other runners include the Venetia Williams-trained Stars Du Granits, a well-beaten favourite at Musselburgh last week in a conditional jockeys' handicap hurdle, but it was an incident-packed race and the six-year-old can be forgiven that run.
Alfie Sherrin is another to consider. He mixes chasing with hurdling and is a consistent performer.
Another starry cast is set to line up in the Racing Welfare Johnny Brown Novices' Chase over three miles, headed by Hobbs' exciting prospect Allthekingshorses.
The six-year-old began his British racing career at Exeter a year ago when he beat a strong field including Rocky Creek and Lovcen and then ended the season with victory in the 32Red.com handicap Hurdle at Doncaster in February. He makes his chase debut, too.
Bold Henry was a beaten favourite at Exeter in October but he can re-find his winning form in the Jack Fletcher Beginners' Chase where the biggest danger is Sustainability, whose winning run came to an end at Perth in April having rattled up four wins over hurdles in quick succession. He makes his chasing debut.
Kap West is a decent enough performer and has a chance in the Bet With Racing UK App Handicap Chase, with the Kim Bailey-trained Smokey George is also likely to find improvement on his fourth place in a handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter in October.
Concluding the card is the Roaring 20's Christmas Parties at Exeter Mares' Novices' Hurdle with the Nicky Henderson-trained bumper winner Forever Present making her hurdles debut and Richard Lee's Young Victoria likely to be a warm order to add to her win at Worcester last month.
Frankel has been named Cartier Horse Of The Year for the second time at an awards ceremony in London.
Having won the award last year, Frankel joins Ouija Board on the list of dual winners. Ed Dunlop's mare won the accolade in 2004 and 2006.
Owned and bred by Prince Khalid Abdullah, Frankel is now standing at the Prince's Banstead Manor stud in Newmarket.
He was trained throughout his unbeaten 14-race career by Sir Henry Cecil, who said: "Frankel has been a great ambassador for British Racing and has captured the hearts of so many people, some of whom have never been racing in their lives."
Frankel beat three-times Classic winner Camelot, Nathaniel, Cirrus Des Aigles and Excelebration to the main award and was also named the winner of the Cartier Older Horse category.
Black Caviar took the Cartier Sprinter Award, Camelot won the three-year-old category, The Fugue was crowned the best three-year-old filly, while Dawn Approach was crowned two-year-old champion colt and Certify the best juvenile filly.
Ascot Gold Cup winner Colour Vision won the Cartier stayers category.