Gumball bids to restore reputation
Philip Hobbs is hoping the flat track at Huntingdon will enable Gumball to restore what was once a burgeoning reputation on Friday afternoon.
The French import was most impressive in winning his first two starts at Stratford and Chepstow in October, positioning himself as one of the more intriguing juvenile hurdlers in doing so.
He went to Cheltenham in November for a JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial and was expected to go off as favourite. However, a wash of late support came for Nicky Henderson's mare Apple's Shakira and she duly produced a fine display in winning easily under Barry Geraghty.
Apple's Shakira has backed that display up since and she is now 3/1 to win the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. Gumball has been given time to get over that run, where he appeared to stop rather quickly.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson is back on board for the Smarkets Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle (15:00) at Huntingdon and Hobbs is hoping the track will play to his strengths.
"Gumball is in good form and we're looking forward to running him," said the trainer. "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 is 11/8 to win at Huntingdon and once more his key rival is from Henderson's Seven Barrows team. Style De Garde was a good winner at Newbury last month on his first outing after arriving from France and Nico de Boinville's mount is 10/11 to make it two from two for the champion trainer.
A field of five will go to post, with Gary Moore saddling the filly Aiguille Rouge, impressive winner of a pair of juvenile contest at Fontwell last month and 20/1 to score in the hands of the trainer's son Jamie.
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