Exeter’s six race card opens with the Champions League Betting at 188Bet Handicap Hurdle where the Jeremy Scott-trained Shoofly Milly can go one better than her second at the course last month.
The eight-year-old did much of the work at the head of the field until three from home when Zero Grand forged clear to win easily. If she produces the same performance today, off the same mark, she should come into the reckoning.
Nigel Hawke saddles course and distance winner Midnight Request who ran a fine race at Carlisle last month to land a three mile one furlong handicap hurdle by four lengths and has gone up 9lbs, while Smoking Dixie has his first run in a handicap for Ben Pauling.
Carnspindle carries the best form in the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle. The Warren Greatrex-trained mare won a bumper at Uttoxeter in December, and has had two starts in novices’ hurdles since, and experience may come into play on the heavy ground. Here all along has had two starts in Irish point-to-points and will handle the ground while Theatre Rogue may get closer than his last attempt when fourth in a novices’ hurdle at Wincanton.
The Zoe Davison-trained Gustav has yet to get his nose in front but a light weight in the 2m3f handicap chase could help him see off his rivals to land the first win of his career. There were encouraging signs on his last performance at Leicester where he was second in a novice chase and on his handicap debut, he could be on an attractive mark.
In the three mile Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Chase Venetia William’s Lower Hope Dandy ran a fine race in defeat at Bangor-On-Dee in January just failing to get to the winner and going down by four and a half lengths. The handicapper hasn’t relented but he may be able to get the better of his rivals today. In the same race, Quinto, trained by Jimmy Frost, has shown enough in his recent runs to suggest he can go close. He was second to Bindon Mill in January, and was second again at Fontwell a month later.
Frost also saddles Baccalaureate in the two mile handicap hurdle and the 11-year-old is sure to be a popular choice on the back of his game effort at the course 11 days ago when he won well. His daughter Bryony Frost, who rides Pacha Du Polder in next week’s St James Palace Foxhunter Chase, is on board again. Of the others, Brave Deed could resume winning ways having dropped to a mark he is capable of winning off.
The two mile Six Nations Rugby At 188Bet Conditional Jockeys' Training Series Handicap Hurdle concludes the card with the Philip Hobbs-trained Mr Big looking an interesting option on is first run in a handicap.
Following the meeting Exeter hosts its annual Cheltenham Festival Preview Evening with Philip Hobbs, David Pipe, Harry Derham, Nick Scholfield, Luke Harvey and Luke Tarr from sponsors Star Sports on the panel. The evening gets underway at 6.30pm and tickets are available on the door for £12.