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Philip Hobbs optimistic as he sets 'best novice' Thyme Hill on Challow trail

Thyme Hill: engaged in Saturday's Challow
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Philip Hobbs, back in the Grade 1 groove thanks to new two-mile star Defi Du Seuil, is out to bag another top-level prize at Newbury on Saturday with the promising Thyme Hill set to be a leading fancy for the Betway Challow Novices' Hurdle.

A five-year-old son of Kayf Tara, Thyme Hill runs in the colours of the Englands and Heywoods and was a smart bumper performer last term, capping the campaign with a fine third in Cheltenham's championship edition.

He then won the Persian War at Chepstow before another Grade 2 strike at Cheltenham last month.

The yard landed the Challow with Bonanza Boy in the 1986-87 season and in 2011 with Fingal Bay. 

Hobbs said: "The Challow is definitely where Thyme Hill is going on Saturday. His hurdling career couldn't have started any better. It's all gone very well. I think he probably is the best of our novices this season but we have others to run yet.

"He is very genuine, goes well on soft ground and is in very good form. He would have to be one of my best novices since Fingal Bay and Thyme Hill will be my first Challow Hurdle runner since then."

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls could field Enrilo in the Challow - which counts the mighty Denman among its winners - while the powerhouse Lambourn stable of Nicky Henderson may be represented by Son Of Camas and The Cashel Man.

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He is very genuine, goes well on soft ground and is in very good form
E.W. Terms