Cheltenham Festival contenders on show at Exeter Racecourse this Friday

PUBLISHED: 12:15 18 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:16 18 February 2014

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Cheltenham Festival contenders will have a racecourse gallop at Exeter Racecourse this Friday (February 21), following the last race on its six race card at 4.50pm, writes Lucy Johnson.

Paul Nicholls has said both Big Bucks and Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Silviniaco Conti are likely to come if the ground is suitable. “Those are the two I have in mind, but it is very much weather dependent as I wouldn’t want to gallop them if the ground is heavy,” he said.

Nicholls is one of a six-strong panel on Friday evening at the course’s annual Cheltenham Festival preview night with Philip Hobbs, David Pipe, top jockey Nick Scholfield, the Racing Post’s Andrew King and Star Sports’ Luke Tarr joining him. Host for the evening is Racing UK’s Oli Bell.

General manager Tim Darby said: “It’s a little bit different this year as we have racing, following by Cheltenham contenders galloping and then we have our popular preview evening which starts at 6.30pm. It’s a night not to be missed with the panel talking about their chances and other major contenders and the price includes a hot, one course supper.”

The first of six races comes under starters’ orders at 2.20pm with the Bathwick Tyres National Hunt Novices Hurdle and entries include several very smart novices including five-times winner Vieux Lion Rouge, a former bumper winner at the course, who is entered in both the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.

His trainer David Pipe has also entered another notable runner Legacy Gold in the Equine Investments 11th Year Still Gong Strong Mares’ Novices Hurdle. Like her stable mate Vieux Lion Rouge she is entered in the two mile and two mile five furlongs novice hurdle races at the Festival. She has rattled up five wins from six attempts including winning on her hurdles debut at Uttoxeter in December and then following up at Leicester last month.

The first race is off at 2.20pm. Cheltenham contenders will be put through their paces following the last race at 4.50pm with the preview starting at 6.30pm. Pre-book to come racing and attend the preview evening for £33 (Premier) or £28 (Grandstand and Paddock). Raceday tickets start at £15 with a £2 discount if pre-booked on line. Children aged 17 and under race free. A free bus to the racecourse leaves Exeter St Davids at 12.30pm and Exeter Bus and Coach Station at 12.45pm and returns 30 minutes after the last race.

The ticket hotline number is 0844 5793005 and for all things Exeter racecourse visit www.exeter-racecourse.co.uk

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