There's a Storm brewing down at Exeter race
Mudlarks are going to be the order of the day at Exeter where conditions will be stamina-sapping to say the least, but the aptly-named Storm Alert can ring the new year in style by landing the Billy Williams Memorial Novices Handicap Hurdle.
Trained close to the course by Sue Gardner, the six-year-old has been in grand form in recent weeks when winning in similar conditions at Fontwell and posting two other placed efforts each side of that victory.
The one thing that Storm Alert will not be lacking is an abundance of stamina and the ability to cope with bottomless ground. Connections feel they have found the right race for him to regain the winning thread.
Jumping fences was always going to be the game for Paul Nicholls' Hawkes Point and he can build on the promise of his Plumpton debut in the Bathwick Tryes Novices Chase with Ruby Walsh, pictured, in the saddle.
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The cracking Irish rider is always worth following on his jaunts across the Irish Sea to take part in midweek meetings as it is almost a tip in itself and Hawkes Point should have no problems with the underfoot conditions.
He shaped as if more of a stamina test would suit when runner-up at Plumpton, so the undulating course on Haldon Hill will be very much in his favour and he can outpoint Gullinbursti, who was just about the same horse on hurdles ratings.
Victor Dartnall's team are slowly re-emerging from an enforced shutdown due to an outbreak of equine herpes and Ambion Wood looks of plenty of interest in the Royal Castle Hotel Beginners' Chase.
The imposing six-year-old signed off last season with back to back successes at Sandown and Perth over hurdles, but has the size and scope for chasing and he can make a winning debut at his new career.
Although Dartnall's horses are shaping as if they need the run following the break, they will have to connect at some stage and Ambion Wood can run out a winner from Buddy Bolero.