Fingal Bay takes Neptune plunge

 

There is some significant Cheltenham i-dotting and t-crossing due to be carried out later this week but a certain amount of punctuation was put in place yesterday ahead of the four-day, £3.3m Festival that starts four weeks today. Binocular, for instance, one of Nicky Henderson's Champion Hurdle candidates, will miss tomorrow's Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso and challenge for the title he won two years ago without further conditioning in public.

And the Irish mare Voler La Vedette, trained by Colm Murphy, is to take on the rock of Big Buck's in the World Hurdle rather than the hard place of Quevega in the David Nicholson Hurdle. Likewise, she will head straight for the Festival, skipping her proposed warm-up at Navan on Saturday.

The expansion of programme at the Festival can make life difficult for ante-post punters, with an increasing number of options for competitors, particularly in the novice hurdle divisions. But the unbeaten Fingal Bay, at the head of the betting for both the two-mile five furlong Grade One contest and its three-mile equivalent, is now confirmed for the shorter race, the Neptune Investment Management Hurdle. "I'm sure he would go three miles," said his Somerset-based trainer, Philip Hobbs, "but we don't know that for certain."

Hobbs also indicated that last year's Arkle Chase winner Captain Chris would take his chance in the Gold Cup. The eight-year-old has undergone some intensive education with jumping guru Yogi Breisner since his disappointing display in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham last month, when he was pulled up early after some alarmingly right-handed leaps. But another of last season's top novices, the Irish-trained RSA Chase winner Bostons Angel, has been ruled out of the Gold Cup after his dull display at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The loss to frost and snow of Newbury's informative card of Festival trials three days ago has, happily, meant only a brief hiatus for those looking for clues. The highlights have been rearranged for Friday, when entry to the track will cost nothing.

The stars on view are due to include Long Run, who will face a maximum of seven rivals in the Denman Chase, his final prep before his Gold Cup defence. The seven-year-old has been beaten by Kauto Star in both runs this season and he and his connections need the confidence booster of a victory. His rivals are set to include two of Kauto Star's stablemates, last year's Gold Cup fourth What A Friend and Tidal Bay.

The betting frenzy ahead of the John Smith's Grand National starts in earnest today, with the publication of the weights for the Aintree marathon. But there were a few ripples yesterday, with David Pipe-trained Junior, due to start his road to Aintree at Haydock on Saturday, backed to clear favouritism, as short as 10-1 in some lists.

The Turf Account

Chris McGrath's nap

Pentiffic (3.25 Ayr)

Battling third to a Festival-bound handicap snip at Cheltenham last time and he, too, may be well-treated as he ventures into open company.

 

Next best

Three Bards (2.10 Southwell)

Front-runner caught close home in his two progressive efforts over 10 furlongs last month. Drops back in trip on today's slower track.

 

One to watch

If Bold Sir Brian (Lucinda Russell), a wide-margin winner at Musselburgh on Saturday, makes the long journey from Scotland to Cheltenham next month, the hint should be taken.

 

Where the money's going

The gamble on Simonsig for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle continued yesterday, now 8-1 favourite for the Festival opener in Ladbrokes' lists.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific