Exeter tips: Garde La Victoire up for the Haldon Gold Cup
Garde La Victoire looks pure Gold in Exeter showpiece
Garde La Victoire scored in terrific style on seasonal reappearance and looks to hold outstanding claims of following-up the valuable Haldon Gold Cup handicap chase on today’s card at Exeter (14.20).
The Philip Hobbs trained gelding won his first three starts over fences last season in impressive fashion, including when giving 9lb and a seven length thrashing to subsequent four-time winner Bristol De Mai at Uttoxeter.
Garde La Victoire then fell four from home in the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when still in contention and also came to grief on his final start of the campaign in a similar grade affair at Aintree when unseating Richard Johnson four from home.
Impressive in Welsh Champion Hurdle
Connections decided to switch the seven-year-old back to the smaller obstacles for his first start this season and Garde La Victoire enjoyed a confidence boosting success when defying top weight to readily land the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on soft ground that was far from ideal.
The return to a sounder surface is sure to suit and the selection now switches back to chasing off what looks a workable mark of 151.
With just 10st 12lb on his back, Garde La Victoire can make the most of the 12lb he receives from 2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets to land the spoils en route to even better things.
Baraza appeals on handicap debut
In the 2m 2f handicap hurdle that brings proceedings to a close (16.20), Baraza looks decent value to open his account.
The Tom George trained gelding is yet to trouble the judge in three starts over the obstacles but did hint at ability in the first two of those.
After finishing a tenderly handled four on hurdles debut at Bangor, Baraza was far from disgraced when eighth of 17 to the hugely exciting Winter Escape in a warm contest at Doncaster.
Although eventually beaten 27 lengths, the five-year-old raced close-up for most of the race until weakening late on.
Plenty of subsequent winners have emerged from that contest and Baraza looks a potential improver now going down the handicap route.
An opening mark of 99 could well underestimate the son of Smadoun’s ability and Baraza is certainly bred to be better than it being a brother to top-class chaser Nacarat.
13.20: Swoop To Conquer
13.50: Resolution Bay
14.20: Garde La Victoire (NAP)
14.50: Barney Dwan
15.20: Sun Wild Life
15.50: Mighty Leader
16.20: Baraza (NB)