• Racing/
  • Big Novice Clash At Exeter

Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Novices' Hurdle (Listed) 2m 1f

  • (4yo+, 2m 1f, Class 1, 5 runners)
  • Winner £11,390 2nd £4,274 3rd £2,140 4th £1,066 5th £536 6th £268
  • Going: Heavy
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 4m 38.10s
  • Off time: 14:30:34
Full result
Result 14:30 Exeter
Pos Horse Distance/th> Odds
1st 3 Melodic Rendezvous 5/4
2nd 4 Puffin Billy 9 4/5f
  • Last Updated: February 8 2013, 16:18 GMT

View from connections ahead of Saturday's Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Novice's Hurdle at Exeter.

Puffin Billy: Faces a stern test in a warm Exeter heat
Puffin Billy: Faces a stern test in a warm Exeter heat

Racegoers are in for a treat at Exeter on Sunday as Puffin Billy and Meldodic Rendezvous lock horns ahead of the Cheltenham Festival in the Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Novice's Hurdle.

Both horses are prominent in the ante-post markets for the William Hill Supreme and Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdles next month.

Puffin Billy, trained by Oliver Sherwood, has won both his starts over hurdles at Newbury and Ascot in the style of a top-class prospect.

The Jeremy Scott-trained Melodic Rendezvous lifted the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on his latest start.

Sherwood is hoping this race will help him decide which race to target at Cheltenham.

"It will tell me which race we go for at Cheltenham. Hopefully he'll get round in one piece and run a big race," the Upper Lambourn trainer told At The Races.

"He's in great form and I think he's got stronger since Ascot when he won the Kennel Gate. He's filled out more, he's in great order so may the best man win.

"He's won on soft, he's won on heavy. He hasn't seen good ground so that's why I've said if it did come up good ground at Cheltenham we might re-route to the Neptune, but I've got to wait. Let's see what happens on Sunday first."

Scott is keen to get a run into his stable star before the Festival but does not want to give him too hard a race.

"We would have loved to have gone for the Deloitte in Ireland, but in the end we thought it was too much to ask the horse to do that and then go to Cheltenham," the Somerset handler said.

"Everything's gone well since Sandown. He's in grand form so it's all systems go for Sunday. It will be a very interesting race.

"At the end of the day we don't want to give the horse a gut-wrenching race, ultimately we have to look after him, but it will be a tough enough race and we will give it a go.

"We felt he wanted good ground originally and his bumper was on fairly good ground and he coped that very well.

"We've always thought that is what he wanted, but having said that he has performed very well on heavy."

Lordofthehouse has been reluctant to race, but his trainer Tom George is hoping the five-year-old will be on his best behaviour.

"He's been as good as gold at home since his last run. He's schooled well and is working well and I couldn't be happier with him," said the Slad handler.

"Whereas when he first arrived he tried to do one or two silly things, he just goes about things like an ordinary horse now. You wouldn't see him in the string messing around like he used to.

"It's obviously a different thing going racing and we just hope that he puts his best foot forward on the track."

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(reopens) On an excellent card, Harry Topper looks to continue his progression in the Bathwick Tyres Taunton Graduation Chase.

The Kim Bailey-trained novice made a successful debut on this course in October and followed up at Newbury in November when he beat subsequent Irish Arkle hero Benefficient.

Harry Topper has not raced since then but Bailey has always had this contest as his returning point.

"It's a competitive little race and he's wrong at the weights with a couple of the horses, but I hope he'll improve and we'll find out," said the Gloucestershire trainer.

"I've had this race targeted for a long time, so it's always been the plan and it's fingers crossed."

Harry Topper is prominent in the betting for the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham next month.

Bensalem, a winner at the Festival in 2011, is back in action after 673 days on the sidelines, much to the delight of his trainer Alan King.

"Bensalem is the highest-rated horse in the race, but he has been on the injured list since Aintree 2011, so, while he has been working well, he will obviously come on considerably for this first run back," the Barbury Castle handler told www.alankingracing.co.uk.