We’re back at Exeter Racecourse this weekend for one of the best meetings in the South West – Super Sunday! Over £115,000 worth of prize money is on offer, and we are treated to a Class 1 Listed Novice Hurdle. In previous years the likes of Finian’s Oscar and Unowhatimeanharry have won at this meeting, so there is likely to be a future star in here somewhere. I’ll be attending once again this year, so be sure to follow me on twitter @JakePriceTips for live updates throughout the day, as well as my tips from Punchestown and Ayr.
14:00 ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4) – 2m2½f
We start the day with a Novice Hurdle, which last year had the now 142 rated Misterton in second place.
Ditcheat trainer Paul Nicholls sends Blu Cavalier for this, who has only had one start over hurdles when second to the very impressive If The Cap Fits over course and distance. The third and fourth have both won since (albeit up in trip), with Enniscoffey Oscar winning a Grade 2 at Doncaster. Whilst the form looks good on paper, these horses clearly needed a longer trip to showcase their talents. Despite being off the track for 122 days, the Sam Twiston-Davies mount is still the one to beat here. Golden Sunrise looks the main danger, but was well beaten by the aforementioned when they met in October. The Colin Tizzard charge has ran three times since however, and should get a lot closer if replicating the form such as when beaten 3 lengths by Chooseyourweapon at Chepstow. The rest rather leave something to be desired, with Samburu Shujaa finishing second behind Whiskey In The Jar in a bumper last year before 3rd at Taunton on Hurdles debut last month. He will need to show improvement, but can claim third again for Richard Johnson and Philip Hobbs. Colin Tizzard will also send point-to-point winner Mount Rushmore, who was well beaten in a bumper at Chepstow last month and wouldn’t be of interest today.
It would be very surprising if Blu Cavalier couldn’t land this weak looking Novice Hurdle, as his form on his only start over timber has been working out very well. The only concern would be that he hasn’t ran in 122 days, but missing the wet winter months could be a blessing in disguise.
Back Blu Cavalier to Win @ 1/1
14:30 Listed Novices’ Hurdle (Class 1) – 2m½f
One of the most exciting races of the day is this Listed Novices’ Hurdle, which was won last year by subsequent Grade 1 Aintree scorer Finian’s Oscar.
Djingle is a fascinating runner in this Listed Novice Hurdle, making his British debut in Devon today. Twice unbeaten over hurdles in France, this new McNeil family purchase was snapped up for a massive €350,000 after an impressive victory in a Listed Hurdle at Auteuil in November (Check out the video below). The form produced from his first start over Hurdles has worked out really well too, with the second winning two Listed Handicap Hurdles since. This will be no easy task on his first start for Paul Nicholls under a penalty, but the Soft ground will be ideal. He holds entries in the Supreme and Ballymore, so will need to win today in order to think about engaging at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 5 year old won two Hurdle races in France at Auteuil, including a Listed event (below). He holds entries in the Supreme & Ballymore. pic.twitter.com/EraLkFNkST
— Jake Price (@JakePriceTips) February 7, 2018
Vision Des Flos heads the opposition, making his fourth start over obstacles. The former Punchestown Land Rover bumper winner will go over a shorter trip today to try and shed his maiden tag, after running in some hot races behind the likes of Poetic Rhythm, On The Blindside and Paisley Park. Colin Tizzard seems to have his yard in a richer vein of form of late, and this expensive purchase should go close without a penalty. It’s also worth noting that he has had a wind op since his second place at Hereford. Nick Williams sends track and trip winner Mercenaire who adds even more depth to this fantastic contest. The Juvenile finished third (only beaten 12½ lengths) behind We Have A Dream and Sussex Ranger in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow last month, and as an added bonus gets a 4 year old allowance meaning the grey can race from a low weight of 10-7. He certainly faces a tough task against more senior rivals, but the extra weight he receives will put Lizzie Kelly’s ride right into contention. Frankel’s first jumps winner Solo Saxophone looks out of his depth here with two wins in workmanlike fashion, and Dartmoor Girl will jump around to pick up some prize money.
This is a tricky contest to call, but the level that Djingle has shown so far over hurdles has been very impressive. The expensive purchase is a son of the late Voix Du Nord, who has also produced Defi Du Seuil and Vroum Vroum Mag in recent times. If he shows anywhere near that ability on his debut for Paul Nicholls then they will have a serious Horse on their hands.
Back Djingle to Win @ 5/4
15:05 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Qualifier (Class 2) – 2m7f
Last year this Pertemps Qualifier was won by Impulsive Star, who started Favourite for the main event at Cheltenham a month later. Although he finished tailed off, the fourth place that day Barney Dwan finished second to Presenting Percy, so we could see some serious contenders here.
Paul Nicholls sends the 139 rated and top weight Overland Flyer for his first start in 371 days, and he looks likely to struggle with top weight. This is a tough ask after such a long time out for the point to point graduate, who has only had two starts under rules in his career so far. One that makes strong appeal is the Ben Pauling Novice Delire D’Estruval. The Simon Munir and Isaac Suede owned gelding has racked up eight starts over obstacles so far in his career, with the majority of them being over in France. This 5 year old won a Listed Novice Hurdle at Haydock in November over 2m, but has run over 2m5f before so this step up to 2m7f shouldn’t be an issue. Daryl Jacob has been in scintillating form of late and will take the ride, where a mark of 135 still looks to have some improvement in it yet. Nicky Henderson steps Charming Zen dramatically up in trip for this qualifier, having never raced past 2m1f before. The Champion Trainer obviously feels that this will bring the best out in the horse and he would be worth a market check despite flopping on his return to action at Kempton last month. Top conditional James Bowen retains the ride and takes off a handy 3lbs. One horse that definitely stays the trip is Neil Mulholland’s Solomn Grundy, who won a Pertemps Qualifier at Newbury in 2016. Things haven’t worked out over Fences, and a reversion to Hurdles will suit the Roger Brookhouse horse today. He’s been dropped a pound by the Handicapper since his last run over the smaller obstacles, and could go close from a low weight of 11-5 under Tom Scudamore. Finally, Present Times reopposes Lovenormoney on 9lbs better terms for a 9 length defeat last time at Chepstow. The Evan Williams charge is bottom weight 10-4 despite winning three in a row before this, and could be a cracking each/way bet if he can cope with this rise in class.
This looks a wide open contest, however a slight preference is for Ben Pauling’s Delire D’Estruval who looks the most progressive of these and this new trip could be the making of him. I would also recommend a small each/way bet on Solomn Grundy back over Hurdles however, as he has won a Pertemps Qualifier before so is proven to stay out the trip.
Back Delire D’Estruval Each/Way @ 9/1 (Non-Runner)
Back Solomn Grundy Each/Way @ 10/1
15:35 Veterans Handicap Chase (Class 2) – 3m
Veterans Chases are a division ever increasing in popularity, and last year Perfect Candidate landed for Fergal O’Brien. Lots have trainers seem to have got on board with the series in this race, with lots of newly qualified 10 year olds being entered.
The 14 year old Pete The Feat repeatedly shows that age is just a number with a fantastic win at Sandown before finishing second in the 2017 Veterans Chase Final over the same track last month. Charlie Lonsdon wastes no time in getting the old boy qualified for the 2018 final, and it will be fantastic to watch him jump boldly from the front on his 62nd start under rules. Henri Parry Morgan finished second at this meeting last year and is one of four newly turned 10 year olds to take up this opportunity. James Bowen will ride for his Father Peter Bowen, taking off 3lbs in the process. Fletchers Flyer was well fancied for the Irish Grand National last spring, but pulled up and hasn’t looked the same since. Harry Fry will hope stepping into Veterans company will bring some improvement, but he is one best watched in this contest. Gentleman Jon could hold the key for this contest, having finished 3rd to Nicky Henderson’s Gold Present at Newbury in December. The form has been working out very well since, and the ten year old will be fresh for this. Tom Scudamore takes the ride of the Colin Tizzard charge, who can race from 11-1.
On the basis of his form with Gold Present, who has since beaten Frodon at Ascot, Gentleman Jon gets the vote. A newly qualified runner for these contests, the ten year old receives 11lbs from the top weight so looks to be on a very winnable mark under Tom Scudamore.
Back Gentleman Jon to Win @ 4/1
16:10 Graduation Chase (Class 2) – 3m
Tea For Two won this event last year before going on to win the Grade 1 Aintree Bowl Chase at the Grand National meeting.
This Graduation Chase looks to be a good opportunity for Grade 2 winner Elegant Escape, who comes here after a 2nd place in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day. This looks a good warm up event for the Colin Tizzard charge before going to the RSA or National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month, and he really should be winning this. Tom O’Brien takes the ride of the 150 rated horse, who can race from 11-4 as he hadn’t won a Chase before the start of this season. This weight in hand should put this race beyond doubt; however Pobbles Bay will look to get his season back on track. The Evan Williams charge has been thrashed in big handicaps so far this season, most recently finishing 7th in the Welsh National. A return to a smaller field today should help, but it will be a very tough ask. Ramses De Teillee can put up a strong challenge in this Graduation Chase having won in very impressive style on both Chepstow runnings so far. The David Pipe grey is only rated 2lbs behind the aforementioned, but ideally wants it a lot softer than it is forecasted to be on Haldon Hill.
Back Elegant Escape to Win @ 1/1
Note: I just wanted to reiterate my condolences to connections of Fountains Windfall, who was declared for this race but sadly lost his life on Friday morning. Desperate news. RIP.
16:40 Novices’ Chase (Class 3) – 2m3f
The penultimate race of the day has cut up a lot from some exciting entries, but Le Rocher heads the weights for this Novice Chase and looks the best of these. The Nick Williams charge is so far unbeaten over fences, winning a Graduation Chase over slightly shorter here at Exeter on debut in December where he finished alone. He has won twice since including when gamely beating Three Muskateers at Market Rasen last month. Tom Scudamore retains the ride for owners he has had so much success with in the past, and receives top weight here at 11-8. Amongst the other runners, Brelan D’As has been well beaten in both starts over fences so far, but will need to improve a lot to get competitive here. The Paul Nicholls charge will be in recipient of weight from most, but this still shouldn’t be enough to get him into the winner’s enclosure. Verni is the only other runner that looks to have the ability to win this contest, making his Chase debut here for Philip Hobbs. The useful handicap hurdler finished second to Champagne Classic in the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival last year, and the champion jockey Richard Johnson takes the ride.
Despite Verni making appeal on his debut, he might be one to follow later down the line if taking to the larger obstacles. Le Rocher should be too good for these having beaten better opposition last time out. The Nick Williams charge does have to give weight away, but is clearly the best of these over fences right now.
Back Le Rocher to Win @ 7/4
17:10 NH Flat Race (Class 5) – 2m½f
The bumper on this card last year has so far produced five hurdle winners, including Kim Bailey’s recent Grade 2 winner First Flow. This years bumper has cut up a lot from the initial entries, however there does look to be another class horse in the field.
It will be hard to oppose Time To Move On here despite a penalty. The Fergal O’Brien charge won over course and distance in really taking style under today’s jockey Barry Geraghty in December, and it will take a good horse to beat him here. This half-brother to Barney Dwan traveled into the race very strongly and swept through to take it up 1f out, going on to score by 10 lengths. Looking to the rest, Gaucho Gil could be the one for the forecast for Philip Hobbs & Richard Johnson.
Back Time To Move On to Win @ 4/7
I hope you all have a profitable weekend, and enjoy my live updates from Exeter on Sunday over @JakePriceTips. I can’t wait to see Djingle in the paddock!
– Jake Price