Philip Hobbs prepares for Fingal Bay’s comeback
Fingal Bay is set to make his long-awaited return from injury in the Betfred Mobile And Levy Board Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday 1 February 2014.
The eight-year-old won four of his five starts as a novice hurdler a couple of seasons ago, claiming Grade One honours in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury before signing off with a good run in defeat at the 2012 Grand National meeting at Aintree.
He made a winning debut over fences at Chepstow later that year before chasing home Dynaste at Cheltenham, but ran out on his next start at Exeter and has been sidelined by injury since.
Fingal Bay will make his handicap debut and first competitive appearance in almost 15 months in this weekend’s Grade Three event.
Philip Hobbs has reported his charge in good shape. The Minehead-based trainer said: “He is very much an intended runner on Saturday and he seems in very good form.
“He’s been back with me for about four months and he had a couple of months in pre-training before that, so hopefully he is well up to speed. We’re looking forward to getting him back on the track.”
Fingal Bay does hold an entry in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but Hobbs added: “I suppose that looks unlikely at this stage, we’ll just wait and see how he gets on this Saturday.”
Fingal Bay is one of 13 entries for the two-mile-six-furlong contest, with the weights headed by Paul Nicholls’ Lanzarote Hurdle winner Saphir Du Rheu.
Hobbs also confirmed Cheltenian as an intended runner in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday week. The 2011 Champion Bumper winner spent almost a year on the sidelines after his Festival heroics, but made a winning start to the current season with an impressive display at Uttoxeter on New Year’s Eve.
Hobbs said: “We were very pleased with him at Uttoxeter and he’ll run at Newbury provided he gets in. He still needs a few horses above him to come out, so fingers crossed.”
My Tent Or Yours will bypass this weekend’s Betfred “Double Delight” Contenders Hurdle at Sandown and instead head for the Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on February 15.
Narrowly beaten in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by Champagne Fever before bolting up at Aintree, the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old has confirmed himself a genuine Champion Hurdle hope with triumphs in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and Christmas Hurdle at Kempton so far this term.
Trainer Nicky Henderson is keen to get one more run into his charge before his trip to Prestbury Park in March, but the owner’s racing manager, Frank Berry, has revealed this weekend’s trial has already been ruled out.
Berry said: “I’ve spoken to Nicky and the plan is for My Tent Or Yours to go to Wincanton. He definitely won’t go to Sandown.”
There have been reports that Henderson was concerned about the health of some of his string, with suggestions the champion trainer had isolated My Tent Or Yours and some of his other stable stars to reduce the chance of them picking up any ailments.
“Nicky tells me the horse is in very good form and he couldn’t be happier with him. I didn’t go any further than that. That’s all I wanted to know,” Berry added.
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