25 November 2022

Thyme Hill chasing Newbury hat-trick in Francome heat

25 November 2022

Top-class hurdler Thyme Hill bids to make it three from three at Newbury in Saturday’s Coral John Francome Novices’ Chase.

The Grade Two contest has an illustrious roll of honour, with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River (2015) and his top-class stablemate Thistlecrack (2016) among the recent winners.

The Philip Hobbs-trained Thyme Hill, who has already won a Challow Hurdle and a Long Distance Hurdle at the Berkshire circuit, made a smart start to his chasing career at Exeter three weeks ago and now steps up to Grade Two level in the hands of Tom O’Brien.

“I was very happy with him at Exeter and we’re looking forward to Saturday,” said the jockey.

“He was a bit fresh (at Exeter) and he would have learnt a lot. He’s schooled well since and has won twice at Newbury over hurdles, so he likes the course anyway.

“Hopefully the ground won’t be a problem. Hopefully it will be good or on the easier side and that would be spot-on – he’s had no problem with that in the past.”

Paul Nicholls is the most successful trainer in the race’s history with 10 previous victories – and after declaring Grade One Gelino Bello a non-runner due to the drying ground, the Ditcheat handler will this year rely upon McFabulous.

The eight-year-old won three times at Grade Two level over hurdles and made a smart start to his chasing career at Exeter recently.

“McFabulous enjoys good ground and is in top form after his impressive success at Exeter 12 days ago,” Nicholls told Betfair.

Fergal O’Brien’s outsider Mortlach completes the quartet.

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