Paul Ferguson has two selection from Exeter for us on Sunday; Just A Par at 2.00 and Puffin Billy at 2.30. Compare odds and bet.
Hopefully Exeter will pass an 10am inspection as there are some highly promising youngsters on show, none more so than the unbeaten Puffin Billy (2:30) who can take the Listed novices’ hurdle, which has been won by My Way De Solzen, Noland and Spirit Son in recent years.
The decision to take on Melodic Rendezvous, twice a winner for this column at rewarding odds this winter, isn’t taken lightly but the selection is a serious prospect who connections have got nowhere near to the bottom of as of yet.
Testing ground over this 2m1f will not be an issue and, while his main market rival has a Grade 1 to his name already and they meet off levels this afternoon, there is no doubting that Oliver Sherwood’s stable-star is up to the top level and he can stake his claim for Festival glory by maintaining his 100% here.
Sherwood saddles another really likeable type in the shape of embryonic chaser Many Clouds in the opener and, while the Ascot winner remains a smart prospect, he might struggle to cope with Just A Par (2:00) this afternoon, as the ex-Irish runner relishes testing ground.
A points winner who won by 7 lengths on his rules debut for TJ Nagle at Punchestown in November (3rd beaten 16 lengths has won twice since to boost the form), he has since joined Paul Nicholls and carries the colours of leading stable owners Paul Barber and Graham Roach.
The son of Island House cost his new connections no less than £260,000 at the Cheltenham sales in November and he still holds entries in the Neptune and Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. They will be hoping he starts to repay that lofty price tag right away in what looks a fascinating opener.
Other highlights on the card are Harry Topper who goes in search of the hat-trick over fences in the Graduation Chase (his form looks pretty solid but he still looks a little raw), Colour Squadron should relish the step up in trip in the novices’ chase and The Liquidator sets a fair standard in the second division of the bumper. Runner-up to Clondaw Kaempfer in Ireland last year, he filled the same spot on his debut for David Pipe at Cheltenham in November.
Also pay attention to the bumper over in Ireland, where Clondaw Court will be sent off at prohibitive odds, but he could well be Willie Mullins’ leading contender for the Champion Bumper. Elsewhere on the card both Buckers Bridge and You Must Know Me are interesting for Andrew Lynch, though both need to bounce back from disappointing efforts last time.
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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)