Exeter’s New Year’s Day race meeting kicks off at 12.25pm and, with so many abandonments due to waterlogged courses, trainers will be hoping the meeting survives today’s forecast downpours.
Harry Fry has been keen to get a run into the smart mare Violin Davis, who is set to make her chasing debut. On his blog for stanjames.com, the trainer said: “Warwick is already lost and Exeter is expecting another 20mm of rain tomorrow. It seems to be, wherever Violin Davis is entered, they lose the fixtures. We just keep entering and waiting.”
Also entered in the Royal Castle Beginners’ Chase is Ambion Wood, whose trainer Victor Dartnall had his first runner at Doncaster on Saturday following the closure of his yard to equine herpes virus. He said: “I was pleased with Richard’s Sundance at Doncaster, where he was fifth, and then Shammick Boy was fourth in a competitive hurdle at Taunton. Ambion Wood has been schooling well and I’m hopeful he’ll pick up where he finished off last season.
The seven-year-old won the EBF Final at Sandown in March and followed up with an impressive win at Perth a month later.
There are plenty of entries in the National Hunt novice’s hurdle, including course winner Billy Dutton, who was saddled by Chris Down to win well at the beginning of the month. He has stepped up in trip for tomorrow’s race but looks unlikely to find that a hindrance.
Others in the race include Oliver Sherwood’s Many Clouds, who is also entered at Cheltenham, and the Philip Hobbs-trained Irish Buccaneer, who seems sure to improve on his hurdles debut at the course earlier in the month.
Hobbs could saddle Bincombe in the Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Handicap Hurdle, with the five-year-old looking an interesting proposition on his handicap debut.
Entries in the Billy Williams Memorial Novices’ Hurdle include Xaarcet, who was beaten by the improving Home Run at the course earlier in the month, as well as the Susan Gardner-trained Storm Alert, who was beaten by a neck at Uttoxeter in November.
The Bathwick Tyres Taunton Novices’ Chase could see multiple point-to-point winner Keppols Hill score his first win under rules, with competition likely to come from Hi Ho Sheriff, who looked lucky to score an easy win on heavy ground at Chepstow following the fall of Toby Lerone, who was travelling like a winner at the time.
Musical Wedge was beaten by a nose at the course three weeks ago and can make amends in the three mile Handicap Chase, with Forever My Friend another who could go well, with stamina his forte.
Concluding the card is a bumper, with several decent prospects set to line up.