Thoughts today will turn to one of National Hunt’s greatest, when Exeter racecourse host their Best Mate Novice Chase Day.
The three times Gold Cup winner started his chase career at the track back in 2000. He defeated future Grand National winner Bindaree that day, before going on to become a Jump racing legend.
Of his 22 career starts, he won on 14 occasions and finished runner-up seven times. His career ended in tragic fashion when on that 22nd outing he collapsed and died at Exeter during the Haldon Gold Cup of 2005, when still only a ten-year-old.
It’s a track that remains popular with the best trainers around. Today’s meeting looks set to be one of the most informative of the season so far. The beginner’s chase in particular, won by Best Mate all those years ago, is set to be a cracker.
Paul Nicholls has chosen the race to start Far West on his career over fences. Second in the Triumph Hurdle of 2013, he is certainly bred to make an impact over the larger obstacles. It’s an exciting looking field, with Oliver Sherwood’s stable star Puffin Billy also in attendance. Troubled by injury in 2013, he is set to get his career back on track, and is expected to make into a terrific chaser. Philip Hobbs also has an interesting entrant in nine-year-old Dunraven Storm. He will be hoping that the rain stays away for this son of Presenting.
Paul Nicholls has several eye-catching runners on the card. French import Alcala has his second outing on these shores in the 2m1f novices’ hurdle. Well thought of by his trainer, the horse is a big scopey type said to have summered well. He looks sure to have his work cut out with several top stables also sending out interesting runners. Philip Hobbs loves the track, and has a son of Westerner, Hello George, running over hurdles for the first time.
One that can’t be ignored for obvious reasons is the Anthony Honeyball trained The Geegeez Geegee. It certainly is a great name for a horse.
Fans at the Devon track look sure to be treated to a great day’s racing. It’s a meeting that looks set to be a fitting tribute to one of the sport's all-time greats.