Stage set for Fingal Bay to emulate Walkon at Exeter Racecourse
Seven races are on the card at Exeter Racecourse today and a cracking day of action is in prospect with Philip Hobbs' Fingal Bay taking centre stage in the Harry Dutfield Memorial Novices' Chase.
It is a race with a glittering roll call of previous winners, including Walkon, who won last year's renewal, and Exmoor Ranger, who won in 2008.
Fingal Bay won impressively at Chepstow before finishing second to the highly impressive Dynaste, who strode up the hill in immense style at Cheltenham's open meeting in December.
Coole river is interesting having been off the track since February 2010 when he won a grade two novice hurdle on heavy ground at Navan.
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He will love today's going, but a slight concern is that his trainer Emma Lavelle's horses have been slow off the mark.
The card begins with the Bet With Racing UK App Conditional Jockeys Novices' Handicap Hurdle and David Pipe saddles Home Run, who finished an 11 lengths third to Changing The Guard at Newton Abbot in September. Ripoff, trained by Robin Dickin, is also a leading contender on the back of his second at Chepstow a month ago.
The Axminster Carpets Devon Marathon Handicap Chase over four miles will be a slog in the mud and not for the feint hearted.
Jonjo O'Neill has been enjoying a fine run of form in recent weeks and Chesapeake could grind his way to the front with the application of a visor for the first time sure to be of benefit.
Desperate Dex is an obvious contender on the back of two recent successes but he is going up in the weights and the snails pace could help the consistent Ammunition get his nose in front again.
Arbor Surpreme was an exceptional talent once and has a lot of races under his belt. On recent form he has no chance, but races in these conditions can throw up surprises, and if they are going as slow as expected, it may just rekindle his old fire.
The first division of the British Stallion Studs Supports British Racing EBF National Hunt Novices' Hurdle could see the Nick Williams-trained The Italian Yob come home the best of them. He was third to Mr Mole at Exeter in October, with another of today's runners, Kap Gun, five lengths behind Mr Mole at Wincanton last month in a race won by Kings Lad.
In the second division, Hobbs saddles Irish Buccaneer for JP McManus. The five-year-old makes his hurdles debut having won his bumper in good style at Chepstow in April.
Best Director could also go well on the back of his third in a decent bumper at Aintree in May.
The Big Freeze could be an apt winner of the New Year's Day Racing at Exeter Racecourse Novices' Handicap Chase, judging by the long-term weather forecast, and he has every chance on the back of his one length defeat at Mussleburgh last month, while Clare Dyson sends out Musical Wedge under a 7lb penalty following his easy win at Taunton last week.
A bumper concludes the card with the Paul Nicholls-trained Vibrato Valtat likely to be a warm order to begin his career in England on a winning note having won on the flat in France.