- 7 races
- 1st race 1.15pm
- VIC Technology Haldon Gold Cup 3.15pm
The VIX Technology Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter today promises to be a cracking renewal with seven lining up for the prestigious race which comes under starters’ orders at 2.15pm.
Cue Card recorded one of the most impressive wins of his career when winning this race two years ago, and was third last season before looking so good in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.
Following another fine run when he was second to Silviniaco Conti in the King George, Cue Card missed the spring with a setback.
But he is reportedly none the worse and is a leading player despite shouldering top weight and although he was beaten in last year’s race, it was still a fair performance as he was giving 17lb to Somersby who went on to chase home Sire De Grugy in the Champion Chase.
The six –year-old Balder Succes won five times during his novice campaign including the Grade One Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree. With improvement likely to be on the cards, questions remain over the quality of last season’s novices’ and the fact that he’s in his first season against older more experienced horses.
However, King said on his blog yesterday; “I have made no secret of the fact that we hope Balder Succes will develop into a two-mile Champion Chase contender this season, and this looks the right place to start down that road.”
Mick Channon’s horses are in terrific form and Somersby has to be respected, despite being 9lb higher than 2013.
God's Own was a shock 25/1 winner at Punchestown and the in-form Venetia Williams runs talented mare Pepite Rose, while the Paul Nicholls trained Hinterland and Oscar Hill from David Bridgwater's yard complete the seven-strong field.
The card kicks off with the Bathwick Tyres Bideford 2m5f novices’ hurdle where the Harry Fry-trained Thomas Brown begins his hurdling career.
He started off in point-to-points, winning two, and then scored in two bumpers, with Otago Traul, who he defeated by two lengths at Bangor off level weights scoring impressively at Carlisle on Sunday.
Fry also saddles Jollyallan in the following 2m1f Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Novices’ Hurdle but he faces course and distance winner Hello George who trainer Philip Hobbs has said is one of the better novice hurdlers he has in training with the Neptune at the Festival a likely target.
Five in the Bathwick Tyres Novices’ Chase over three miles include Richard Woollacott’s Liberty One, who makes his chasing debut under Rules having one twice over hurdles and three point-to-points.
King saddles Carrraig Mor who has reputedly strengthened up over the summer. He looked exciting over hurdles but then messed up the third last at Ascot when odds on.
The Smith & Williamson Handicap Chase is a hugely competitive affair with the majority of the runners in with a squeak. Tom George saddles Ballinvarrig who found the company too hot in the AON Novices’ Handicap Chase at Punchestown in May but prior to that he ran some sound races; Hobbs will be hoping Gas Line Boy puts a dismal performance behind him at Chepstow last month and bounces back to form, and Ziga Boy, has strong claims having scored a three and a quarter of a lengths defeat at Newbury in March.
Course and distance winner Royal Native lines up in the Treat Yourself with Rewards4Racing Handicap Hurdle. The Anthony Honeyball-trained six-year-old got the season off on a winning note when staying on well to beat King Boru in a 3m3f handicap hurdle at Fontwell in October.
The Racing UK Anywhere Available Now Handicap Hurdle concludes the card and plenty of eyes will be on the Dan Skelton-trained Tashkaldou. Skelton, with his jockey brother Harry, has been in terrific form and a promising run from the five year old at Uttoxeter last month, puts him in the picture.