Ten tackle feature event at Exeter races today
Ten runners will contest the Higos Insurance Services Devon National at Exeter today, with the Nick Williams-trained Material Boy likely to be favourite on the back of his easy win in a novice handicap chase at Ffos Las last month.
The first-time application of a visor appeared to pay dividends and the six-year-old should find the step up in trip no problem, given his Ffos Las win was over three miles on heavy ground.
Incentivise could also produce a big run at a decent price. He finished sixth in January’s Coral Welsh National at Chepstow, and his trainer Richard Lee has a knack for producing the best from his staying chasers.
The 12-runner British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF Mares’ National Hunt Novices Hurdle kicks off the six-race card, and the Warren Greatrex-trained Fairey Delta is worth consideration. She made her hurdles debut at Huntingdon last month, finishing fourth of 14 runners, but she is sure to have improved for the experience and should go well. She is nicely bred out of the consistent mare Motcombe, who was formerly trained by Robert Alner.
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Kim Tian Road has been off the track since 2011, and may need the run, but he was last seen at Taunton, finishing a distant third to Al Ferof. He may have been closer but for a mistake over the final hurdle.
The Weatherbys Hamilton handicap hurdle over two miles three furlongs is an intriguing contest to get stuck into, with 19 runners. Plenty have possibilities, including the Fergal O’Brien-trained Dark Energy, who was beaten by three and a half lengths at Market Rasen last month and may improve for the step up in trip. Tolkeins Tango is improving with every run, while last year’s winner Josh’s Dreamway is also worth a look.
However, Presenting Arms, trained by the in-form Harry Fry, could well be the best of them on this occasion. He was beaten by two lengths by Billy Dutton at the course in December and the step up in trip could help.
De La Bech made mistakes on his chasing debut at Chepstow 12 days ago, and Philip Hobbs’ charge is sure to have learned from the experience in the three-mile Weatherbys Novices Chase. He was still in contention until clobbering the last fence and was consequently out-paced in the closing strides.
In the Weatherbys Bank Novices Hurdle, there will plenty hoping Leader Of The Gang makes amends for his defeat at Sandown two weeks ago, when he started favourite but was beaten by half a length, with the might of AP McCoy failing to get him closer. He may find one rival too good again in the shape of Southfield Theatre, who was well beaten in a grade two race at Sandown in December but will find this much easier.
Concluding the card is the Racing Excellence Conditional Jockeys’ Training Series Handicap Hurdle. Mark Gillard’s Enchanting Smile could go well, having put up good performances in similar company before.
Today’s meeting will have a stellar postcript. David Pipe’s Grands Crus will have a racecourse gallop after racing so plans can be firmed up for the Cheltenham Festival.
The eight-year-old grey has so far had an interrupted campaign, and was pulled up in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in January on his last start. “We will see how he gets on before deciding upon a course of action for him,” Pipe said.