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Monday 11 December 2017

Philip Hobbs can receive a nice pre-Cheltenham boost by saddling Ballygarvey to victory in the race of the day at Newbury.

Philip Hobbs can receive a nice pre-Cheltenham boost by saddling Ballygarvey to victory in the race of the day at Newbury.

The Minehead handler is double-handed in the StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase, with Royal Regatta quite popular in the build-up to the race.

But Ballygarvey and jockey Tom O'Brien are fancied to come out on top in the Grade Three over two and a half miles.

The nine-year-old has rather gone unnoticed, but his form over fences is really good and this is the right time of the year to catch him.

Ballygarvey looked the real deal with back-to-back victories last February, and created a similarly effusive impression when victorious on his seasonal debut at Ascot in December.

Hobbs' representative jumped accurately in a two-mile-one-furlong handicap chase and had plenty remaining to keep Ulck Du Lin at bay by four lengths.

That was no mean feat given he had been out of action since November 2013. It also tended to suggest that a return to this sort of trip will be just the ticket.

Things did not go to plan on New Year's Eve, though, as Ballygarvey could only finish fourth behind Brick Red in a two-mile handicap at Sandown. There may have been excuses, however, as he had a tough race at Ascot and could well have been a casualty of the dreaded 'bounce' factor.

Having been given plenty of time to recover from those exertions, racegoers in Berkshire can expect a much sharper Ballygarvey. Any further rainfall will also be most welcome.

GLINGERBURN can emerge one of the luminaries during Kelso's big day.

Trained with typical prudence by Nicky Richards, the seven-year-old has been a mini-revelation since thoughts turned to hurdling. As such, he must be respected in the totescoop6 Premier Kelso Hurdle. Glingerburn warmed up for this Grade Two assignment with a no-nonsense victory in the Morebattle Hurdle over this course and distance.

Richards' inmate jumped really well from the outset at the Borders track and claimed the noteworthy scalp of Cheltenham Festival winner Hawk High.

Glingerburn, who is unbeaten in three tries over hurdles, remains one of the least exposed runners in the line-up and can reward his trainer's wish to not give Cheltenham a second thought.

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