Best of British talent on show in Exeter's impressive race card
A high-quality card is in prospect at Exeter today, with some exciting horses starting out on their chasing career set to line up in the two beginners' chases.
The course has a resounding reputation for attracting some of the best chasing potential there is, and today's meeting will not disappoint.
Entries in the Betfred Best Mate Beginners Chase include the Tom George-trained Module, winner of a class two handicap hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day in January.
Three and three quarters of a length behind was Art Professor, and a length and a quarter behind him was the Paul Nicholls-trained Hinterland, who won a decent handicap hurdle at Chepstow earlier this month.
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Philip Hobbs will saddle Bold Henry, who fell at the last when 12 lengths ahead of the 16-runner field in a novice hurdle at Kempton in April. He made amends at Exeter three weeks later when easily winning a maiden hurdle.
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained Johns Spirit looked very impressive at Market Rasen in April, when he landed the odds in a 16-runner novices hurdle, having made all the running, to win by ten lengths.
Paul Nicholls runs Rebel Rebellion, who has his first run for a year having finished sixth in Chepstow's Silver Trophy. Before that he impressed in two starts, including a novice hurdle at Sandown, where the highly regard Our Mick was back in third.
In the Betfred 'The Bonus King' Beginners' Chase run over three miles at 4.40pm, Rocky Creek and Gullinbursti re-oppose each other. The pair met in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster in January, with the former winning by three and three quarters of a length. He went on to finish eighth in the final at the Festival.
Gullinbursti won a novice hurdle at Exeter last November and went on to finish second to Knock A Hand in February at Newbury. Also running is The Hillofuisneach, who was progressive last season, running up a hat-trick, until he came unstuck on heavy ground at Haydock, where he was well beaten.
The action gets underway with the Dartmouth Term of "65" England Expects Amateur Riders' Novices' Hurdle over two miles seven furlongs, and former point-to-pointers Highland Retreat and Vintage Kid look set to head the market.
Vintage Kid was a winner at Tralee in March, while Highland Retreat fell in a race won by Silver Commander at Bratton Down in May.
The Barclays 40 Years of Wedded Bliss Novices' Hurdle run over two miles and one furlongs looks a particularly strong renewal, with the Jeremy Scott-trained Melodic Rendezvous set to make his hurdles debut.
Following a winning display in a bumper at Chepstow in March, the six-year-old was sent to the Punchestown Festival to contest the champion bumper, and he finished a credible second on heavy going. Nicholls saddles Mr Mole, another to make his hurdles debut having won a bumper at Hereford in April.
Rydalis is 2lb higher than his course-and-distance win in May and could follow up in the two miles three furlongs handicap hurdle for Venetia Williams.
Roll The Dice will have learned from his chasing debut at Stratford in September, when mistakes put paid to his chances, and he could go well in the Haldon Handicap Chase, while, in the concluding bumper, Garde La Victoire, who runs in the same colours as Menorah and Captain Chris, could go well.