Paul Ferguson has two selections for us on Friday; Village Vic in the 2.10 and Sea of Thunder in the 3.55 both at Cheltenham. Compare odds and bet.
It’s the first day of term at Cheltenham and the new season at jumps headquarters gets underway with a cracking renewal of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, a race that connections of the main protagonists will be hoping proves to be a trial for the Festival contest of the same name.
High-class bumper performer The New One did little wrong on his hurdling debut and is a worthy market leader here, but there is plenty of depth to this race and a chance is taken on Village Vic (2:10) who looked overpriced at 8/1 with Hills last night.
Philip Hobbs’ five-year-old receives 5lbs from The New One and was useful in bumpers himself last term. Hugely impressive on his rules debut at Chepstow over Christmas, he went on to finish runner-up in a warm Grade 2 at Newbury in February.
The son of Old Vic then finished mid-division in the Champion Bumper, which leaves him with 17 lengths to find with the favourite, but the ground was quicker than ideal that day and he is better than the bare form.
Hobbs has admitted that he wish he’d have let him off after Newbury, so Village Vic’s final outing, in atrocious ground at Punchestown, is probably best ignored. He can bounce back this season over hurdles and, at the prices, he is worthy of each-way support on debut today.
Later on the card Irish raider Sea Of Thunder (3:55) can take the 3m novices’ chase for Charles Byrnes and Davy Russell.
The seven-year-old was a useful novice hurdler last season and would have won here at the December meeting but for crashing out at the last. He made an impressive start to his chasing career when winning for this column at Clonmel last month, where he made one fairly serious error early on but, otherwise, jumped with aplomb.
Another son of Old Vic, his fencing got better the longer the race went on and he seemed to jump better the quicker he went. Already handed a mark of 144, he will be difficult to beat with a similar round of jumping and he was trading at 7/4 this morning.
2:10 Cheltenham Village Vic (each-way 8/1 )
3:55 Cheltenham Sea Of Thunder (7/4)
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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:
- SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
- BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
- MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
- SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
- FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
- RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
- AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
- CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
- PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
- SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
- TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)