Johnson scare as Fingal Bay goes off course
ONE of England's leading novice chasers, Fingal Bay, suffered a major setback at Exeter where he ducked out at a fence, giving Richard Johnson a nasty fright.
Philip Hobb's highly-regarded 1/12 favourite had been jumping to the left virtually all the way through the three-runner heat and he did so again at the third-last fence, failing to take off before smashing into the wing of the fence.
An uninjured Johnson was soon on his feet, as was Fingal Bay, but Tom George's 15/2 second favourite Chartreux was left well clear to lift the prize under Paddy Brennan.
At Sandown, the Lucinda Russell-trained Bold Sir Brian confirmed his huge potential by landing the Listed Sportingbet Future Stars Chase. Peter Buchanan kept the 11/10 favourite at the back of the four-runner field in the early stages before he made his move for the lead at the third last.
Bold Sir Brian soon assumed control as Pacha Du Polder's efforts began to take their toll and there were 16 lengths between the pair at the finish.
Earlier, trainer Jonjo O'Neill and champion jockey Tony McCoy combined to claim a 21/1 double, taking the novice handicap chase with a battling John's Spirit (13/2).
They then claimed the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle with Cheltenham prospect Taquin Du Seuil.
The ex-French runner made a winning bow for in-form O'Neill at Uttoxeter in October but then had to settle for second behind the well-regarded My Tent Or Yours at Ascot last time.
Tony McCoy settled his mount at the back of the five-runner field as Le Bec cut out the early pace, but Taquin Du Seuil was cantering on his heels as they turned into the straight.
McCoy sent the 15/8 shot to the front at the last and Taquin Du Seuil demonstrated an impressive change of gear to win by a comfortable six lengths.