Future stars on show at Sandown and Exeter
THE Tingle Creek meeting kicks off at Sandown on Friday with an excellent six-race card that will no doubt highlight some future stars of the jumping game, while Fingal Bay - who won at the meeting last year - is in action at Exeter.
The Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle saw Fingal Bay get the better of Simonsig last year, while previous winners also include Junior, Labelthou, Grand National hero Neptune Collonges and the irrepressible Inglis Drever.
This year a high-class field of five has assembled, with Jonjo O'Neill's recent Ascot runner-up Tarquin Du Seuil the favourite at 6-4. The Paul Nicholls-trained Southfield Theatre, a five length bumper winner on his only start this season, comes next, while Donald McCain's Up And Go is another to make his hurdling debut in Grade 2 company.
Emma Lavelle's Le Bec, a half-brother to stable star and Champion Hurdle hope Tocca Ferro, made a winning start to his hurdling career at Kempton in October, pulling 11 lengths clear of his rivals, and he too has the potential to
The Listed Future Stars Chase also has an illustrious role of honour, with Barbers Shop, Star De Mohaison and Impek among the recent winners and a quality quartet has assembled this year to add their names to the list.
Paul Nicholls relies on Old Roan Chase flop Pacha Du Polder, while Grove Pride and Triolo D'Alene also line up but it is the Lucinda Russell-trained Bold Sir Brian, a winner of four of his last five starts, who heads the market after a 425 mile journey to the Esher track from Russell's Scottish base.
Not to be outdone, Exeter has perhaps the day's biggest star, with last year's Sandown Grade 2 novice hurdle winner Fingal Bay out to regain the winning thread after his reverse at the hands of Dynaste at Cheltenham last time.
A strong field has also assembled for the Axminster Carpets Devon Marathon Handicap Chase, with the TIm Vaughan-trained Our Island the top weight. The 4m trip should suit several and with the going heavy, soft in places it should prove a real slog.
There is also all weather action from Lingfield and while afternoon racing may finish at 3.50pm just over two hours later there is Dundalk's evening fixture to get stuck into with eight races from 6.00pm.
Exeter: Heavy, Soft in places
Sandown: Soft, Good to Soft in places on the chase course, Heavy in places on the hurdle course.