17.30: Fingal Bay fancied to rule the World
A good renewal of the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle, and Fingal Bay looks decent value to prevent Quevega landing her fifth successive success in the contest.
The Philip Hobbs’ trained gelding was a top class novice over hurdles back in 2011, winning four of his five starts including a Grade 1 at Newbury.
The son of King’s Theatre also proved 2 3/4 lengths too good for the ultra-smart Simonsig in a Grade 2 contest at Sandown and looked to have the world at his feet.
Connections then decided to send Fingal Bay over fences in 2012, and although he won on his chasing debut he never really looked a natural over the larger obstacles and ran out on his final start over them at Exeter.
The eight-year-old was then off the track for 429 days through injury, but has looked better than ever since returning to action this season and being switched back to hurdling.
Fingal has won both his starts, and put in a terrific effort last time out at the Cheltenham Festival when defying top weight of 11st 12lb to land the Pertemps Final.
The form of that race has been well advertised since, with the runner-up Southfield Theatre winning at Sandown last weekend and the third home, Pineau De Re, going on to land the Crabbie’s Grand National.
Connections had also been toying with running Fingal Bay in the World Hurdle at the Festival, and jockey Richard Johnson was bullish on his chances.
This Irish equivalent is not as strong, and Fingal Bay looks up to the step up in class and is unbeaten in two runs over the 3m trip.
Willie Mullins’ remarkable mare Quevega heads the betting after becoming the first horse in history to win six races at the Cheltenham Festival when getting up to beat stable companion Glens Melody in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Prestbury Park last month.
The 10-year-old has also won this race for the last four year’s on the bounce, but was made to work very hard at Cheltenham and could be vulnerable now taking on the boys.
I certainly wouldn’t be taking a short-price about her, as Fingal Bay and At Fishers Cross both look formidable opponents.
At Fishers Cross is trained in Pembrokeshire by Rebecca Curtis and ran a cracker to be third to More Of That in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The seven-year-old then got beat a length by Whisper at Aintree last month when sent off the heavily-backed 11/8 favourite, but was hindered by a twisted a shoe from an early part of the contest and in the circumstances put in a brave effort to get so close.
The son of Oscar is reported to have come out of the race well and be in good form, and on his run behind More Of That commands the utmost respect.