Fingal Bay back with a bang
Fingal Bay made a winning return to action following a 429-day lay-off with a game success at Exeter.
Richard Johnson's partner made most of the running in a series qualifier for the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, in which he jumped cleanly from the outset.
The Philip Hobbs-trained eight-year-old (9/2) found stablemate If In Doubt a worthy foe after the last flight, but Fingal Bay held on by half a length.
Winner of the Grade One Challow Novices' Hurdle in 2011, Hobbs' inmate had not been sighted since he spectacularly ran out during a novice chase at this course in December 2012.
He had been sidelined with a tendon injury.
Johnson told Racing UK: "He's a three-mile chaser, and hopefully a very good one.
"What happened here (when he ran out), there was something hurting him, something was sore.
"He'll get a rise (in the weights) but hopefully he'll be competitive next time.
"He's in the World Hurdle but I think, realistically, it's a 20lb jump to be competitive in that race."
Sky Bet cut his odds from 40/1 to 20/1 for that contest after this success.
Vibrato Valtat (7/5 favourite) had earlier gained Listed honours for the Paul Nicholls/Daryl Jacob axis when taking the Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Novices' Hurdle by three and a quarter lengths.