Fingal Bay won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury last yearPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Fingal Bay crashes out and drifts for RSA Chase
Report: Exeter, Friday
Harry Dutfield Memorial Novices' Chase (Class 2) 2m3f110y, 4yo+
FINGAL BAY, one of last season's leading novice hurdlers and the only horse to have beaten Simonsig, blotted his copybook at Exeter on Friday, crashing through the rails as he tried to run out after an already sketchy round of jumping.
Both the 1-12 favourite and jockey Richard Johnson walked away and appear to be unhurt after the RSA Chase fancy ducked out of the three-runner novice chase, leaving the path clear for 15-2 shot Chartreux to win for Tom George and Paddy Brennan.
Beaten comfortably by Dynaste on his last start at Cheltenham, Fingal Bay was expected to get his novice chase campaign back on track with a facile victory, but instead it was frustration and drama.
Exeter has not proved a happy hunting ground for Hobbs, with both Menorah and Captain Chris fluffing their lines at the track last season and Fingal Bay jumped left throughout before crashing through the wings.
Leading early, Johnson put the breaks on in the back straight to try and get a lead, and with Ashbourne Folly momentarily taking it up Fingal Bay produced by far the best, and straightest, jump of his round before pulling his way to the front again and returning to his erratic style of jumping.
Turning into the home straight Johnson again took measures to aid his mount, this time taking Fingal Bay over to the stands side rail to try and counter his mount's wayward jumping.
Despite the thoughtful gesture by the rider, Fingal Bay was not in an accepting mood, and having countered Johnson's first attempt to help him, he went crashing through the rails to repay his second offering of assistance.
Johnson said: "Obviously something is not right with the horse, the way he was jumping to his left at almost every fence, and I probably should have pulled him up."
Paddy Power reacted by pushing Fingal Bay out to 16-1 (from 10) for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March.