Jump racing fans are in for a treat at Exeter today with the Harry Dutfield Memorial Novices’ Chase straight out of the top drawer, and six other competitive races on the card.
In the two miles three furlongs novices chase, the Oliver Sherwood-trained Deputy Dan will be taking on the Paul Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu, while other leading contenders include Horizontal Speed and Pure Oxygen.
High-class hurdler Deputy Dan won over fences at the second attempt at Plumpton last month and his trainer Oliver Sherwood is keen to continue the six-year-old’s education over the bigger obstacles.
The Andy Stewart-trained Saphir Du Rheu rose to 165 in the ratings after notching up a hat trick of wins over hurdles but his inaugural start over fences, when a short odds favourite, ended with Sam Twiston-Davies on the deck after a bad blunder at Newbury last Friday.
Harry Fry saddles Pure Oxygen for Graham Roach, and the six-year-old is sure to build on his inaugural start over fences at Ludlow ten days ago where he finished mid field after leading until four fences from home.
Horizontal Speed was well beaten in a grade two novices’ chase at Wincanton last month, but he’s a decent performer over hurdles, winning five, and finishing in the frame on six other occasions.
A conditional jockeys’ novices’ handicap hurdle gets the card underway and the Seamus Mullins-trained Kentford Heiress’ latest effort at Towcester, where she put in a decent effort to finish second, puts her on the shortlist while the Victor Dartnall-trained Unefille De Guye has done enough on her recent runs to suggest she is capable of winning a race soon.
Tony McCoy is on board the ultra consistent Violets Boy in the 2m3f handicap chase although the Brendan Powell-trained seven-year-old is being hammered by the handicapper despite only get his nose in front on his six starts since July. Dan Skelton saddles Workbench who was a decent third at Wincanton last month in a class one handicap chase and this is an easier race.
Eighteen go to post in the EBF Stallions National Hunt Novice’s Hurdle and the Philip Hobbs-trained Hello George is likely to start favourite with his form looking rock solid.
He got off the mark at the course in October, winning impressively and then suffered defeat after a valiant effort giving Jollyann seven pounds with the winner since scoring at Newbury.
Dancing Shadow will improve for his hurdles debut at Uttoxeter where he finished second and One For The Guv’nr, trained by Nicky Henderson, is interesting on his hurdles debut.
Boss In Boots is interesting back over hurdles In the 2m1f handicap hurdle, and Xaaret ran well enough in defeat at the track last time on his seasonal return.
In the four-mile Devon Marathon, Jonjo O’Neill, who saddled the 2012 winner Arbor Supreme, runs American Legend with Tony McCoy on board the JP McManus-owned six-year-old.
The six-year-old has finished in the frame on five of his six outings this year and has stamina in abundance having won over 3m3f.
The bumper is a fascinating contest with Philip Hobbs saddles a full brother to Wishfull Thinking, with Wishfull Dreaming making his debut. In the same race, flat trainer Keith Dalgliesh makes the long journey from South Lanarkshire in Scotland with Sparky with Northern jockey Wilson Renwick making an extremely rare appearance at the course, and Marcus Tregonning, another flat trainer, saddles Biretta.