Horses To Follow » Fingal Bay

Fingal Bay

Fingal Bay made an impressive hurdling debut in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow on Saturday. Always in the front rank and jumping noticeably well for a hurdling debutant, he moved to the front half way down the back straight, travelled really well around the home turn, quickly drew clear with Baile Anrai and Hard To Swallow after the first in the home straight and, while Baile Anrai looked to be a big threat coming to the third last, Richard Johnson only had to shake Fingal Bay up for a few strides to move on. Slick jumps at the last two flights helped him canter to a six-length win, with a distance back to the rest, Hard To Swallow having come down at the second last when held in a close third.

Baile Anrai was rated only 121 coming into this race, but he has progressive form over hurdles, and the third, Current Event, beaten over 40 lengths, had an official mark of 135, so Fingal Bay probably posted a decent effort here, especially when you consider that he clocked a time only a fraction slower than his stablemate Arthurian Legend recorded when winning the Grade 3 Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle over the same distance later on the card.

This was a really likeable performance from a horse whose only previous run had seen him easily land a heavy ground Exeter bumper back in February. It is significant that the Hobbs team were thinking of running him in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham (they had the winner, Cheltenian, anyway) before the ground came up too quick, and that they ran him here first time over hurdles. This Persian War Novices’ Hurdle is often a good race, many of the west country trainers run their better novices in it, and Philip Hobbs is no exception, he saddled Captain Chris to finish second to Silviniaco Conti in the race last year before he went chasing, and he has had several horses go close since winning it with One Knight and Supreme Prince.

The official ground was good on Saturday, and the times backed that up, so it is encouraging that Fingal Bay has now been equally impressive on his two starts to date in differing conditions. He is an exciting horse and he could be very smart indeed.

22nd October 2011