Phillip Hobbs’ is enjoying a particularly rewarding campaign and enters the New Year as the most realistic challenger to Paul Nicholls’ champion trainer aspirations.
Having booted in no fewer than 11 winners from 26 runners across the last fortnight, he could hardly have hoped to enter the weekend in better form.
The Welsh Grand National and the Lanzarote Hurdle top the bill on a hefty 10-race Channel 4 transmission and the Sandhill handler is fancied to land both.
Chepstow 1:45 – The Welsh Grand National – Woodford County @ 16/1
A year ago Hobbs’ nine-year-old was sent off 8/1 joint favourite to land the laurels, in this contest, only to finish seventh, 24 lengths adrift of winner Emperor’s Choice.
It later emerged that he had lost a shoe during the race and he returns this year on the same mark and a 5lbs lower weight, off the back of a pleasing victory in a 3m6f heavy ground affair at Exeter in early December.
Hobbs’ noted at the time that this race may come a bit soon for him, so the fact that it takes place just shy of a fortnight later than originally scheduled bodes well.
The Sunbury-upon-Thames track has proven a happy hunting ground for fast improving Hobbs hurdler Brother Tedd, who is three from three over course and distance.
Dropped 2lbs for a second to former champion hurdler Rock On Ruby (rated 162) last time out, he is likely to be the beneficiary of a more searching gallop here than in that affair, in which the victor was allowed to dictate a very moderate pace.
He should relish the ground having triumphed here on soft last term, but any drying in the conditions would make him even more attractive, having won three of four on good-to-soft going in his career to date.
Chepstow 2:55 – Novices’ Handicap Chase – Berea Boru @ 20/1
The Bowen family had a field day at Chepstow on National day last year, with jockey Sean scoring a hat-trick of victories, two of which came for his trainer father Peter.
As such, it’s intriguing to note that the latter’s yard enter only one runner on the day in 2016, a previous heavy ground scorer who competes in only his second chase start off the same mark he last won off as a hurdler and bottom weight.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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