Fingal Bay up and running
Fingal Bay made a winning debut over fences in the Blue Square Bet Robert Mottram Memorial Novices' Chase at Chepstow.
Trained by Philip Hobbs, the six-year-old met defeat only once over hurdles, in a Grade One event at Aintree, and was always expected to be a better chaser.
The race lost much of its lustre when Poungach, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Ruby Walsh, fell at the first fence.
That left Fingal Bay out on his own in front and while he jumped well, if a little big, he appeared to be idling after the last, which enabled Tiger O'Toole to throw down a challenge.
Once Richard Johnson got stuck into him, Fingal Bay (8-13 favourite) responded to win by a length and a half.
Johnson told At The Races: "He jumped really well - he's a very good horse. "Obviously the job was made a lot easier with Paul Nicholls' horse crumpling at the first - he was a bit unlucky.
"He's had a nice time, he's enjoyed himself, and hasn't had a hard time.
"I'm sure there'll be harder tests in the future but it's the perfect start.
"I always knew he'd respond when I needed him to and the runner-up is a fair horse.
"It probably suited him with us not going very quick."
Hobbs said: "He was foot-perfect, which was great.
"There was a little bit of a scare after the last but he was good.
"They didn't go quick enough -
a faster pace will help - and I'm pleased he jumped well.
"He's always looked as though he'll be a better chaser but time will tell.
"He definitely won't go less than two and a half miles and he might go up to three.
"I'd imagine he'll go for the Future Stars Novices' Chase at Wincanton or to the Paddy Power meeting for the two-mile-five-race there."
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