Fingal Bay back on course for Aintree, says Hobbs

Fingal Bay, who missed Cheltenham due to a slight setback, is set to reappear at next month’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting at Aintree.

The six-year-old was ante-post favourite for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle which was won by Simonsig, a horse he defeated earlier in the campaign.

Unbeaten in five starts, the Philip Hobbs-trained gelding could go for the John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle over an extended three miles on April 13.

“It was only a hamstring and was just bad timing. He’s absolutely fine now and is back cantering again and he looks terrific,” said Hobbs.

“The three-mile novice hurdle at Aintree is worth even more than any of the novice races at Cheltenham.

“Providing the ground is all right, he’ll probably go there, although Punchestown is a possibility for him.”

The Punchestown Festival later next month is the target for Captain Chris.

He was a winner there last year and is better going right-handed than at Cheltenham where he was fourth in the Ryanair Chase.

“He’s always jumped right-handed since he ran in his first hurdles race two years ago,” Hobbs said.

“It’s always been an issue, but for a horse of his class there are so few opportunities. All being all right, he’ll go to Punchestown.”

Hobbs reports Wishfull Thinking to be fine after his fall at the fourth fence in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

“He wasn’t running with the choke out. On this occasion he was settled better so I hope that would have been a positive at the other end of the race, but we never found out,” he continued.

“The horse is A1.”

The trainer was satisfied with Menorah’s effort in finishing third behind the impressive Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle Trophy.

“I wouldn’t say I was delighted with his run, but fairly pleased would be fine,” he added.

“The only bad mistake he made was at the second last and it knocked the stuffing out of him.

“He was a bit careful at some of the fences, so having got round, I hope it’s done his confidence good.”

Meanwhile, Diamond Harry is none the worse for his run in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and is set to reappear at Aintree next month.

The Betfred Bowl on the opening day of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting on April 12 is seen as the next likely target for the 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup hero.

“He’s fine after the race and we’ll probably aim him at the Aintree three-mile chase,” said owner Paul Duffy.

Diamond Harry was pulled up before the fourth-last fence in Friday’s Cheltenham blue riband, won by Synchronised, after enduring an interrupted preparation.


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