GBI RACING

Promising juveniles clash in Chatteris Fen at Huntingdon

Philip Hobbs

Gumball and Style De Garde lock horns in what promises to be an informative renewal of the Smarkets Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle at Huntingdon on Friday.

The Philip Hobbs-trained Gumball looked every inch a top-class juvenile in the making after winning his first two starts in Britain at Stratford and Chepstow, but was brushed aside by Apple's Shakira at Cheltenham in November.

While there was no disgrace in that effort, with the winner now clear favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, the suspicion was Gumball was not at his best at Prestbury Park and he bids to regain the winning thread in Cambridgeshire.

Hobbs said: "Gumball is in good form and we're looking forward to running him.

"It could be that he is better suited by the flatter track at Huntingdon. He obviously won well on flat tracks at Stratford and Chepstow, so we'll see whether that makes a difference."

Gumball's biggest threat appears to be the Nicky Henderson-trained Style De Garde, who was a winner over hurdles in France in October and was most impressive on his British debut at Newbury last month.

The four-year-old carries the colours of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and connections can expect to learn plenty about his potential aspirations for the remainder of the campaign.

Both Gumball and Style De Garde are a best-priced 25-1 for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Gary Moore saddles the only filly in the field in Aiguille Rouge.

The daughter of Falco was a well-beaten third on her hurdling debut at Fakenham, but has since registered back-to-back victories at Fontwell.

Moore said: "Hopefully the ground is soft as she loves soft ground.

"She won very easily the other day. What she beat I don't know, but she won well and we'll see how she gets on.

"She's a progressive filly, but she'll have to be."

Dan Skelton's Embole and the Nick Williams-trained Esprit De Somoza complete the five-strong field.

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