Hobbs hopes it’s Thyme for another Challow Hurdle success as Hill aims for Newbury’s Grade 1 race
Thyme Hill will seek to maintain an unbeaten start to his hurdling career when he steps back into Grade 1 company to contest the Betway Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday (December 28) - a prize won in the past by Denman.
The Philip Hobbs-trained prospect is one of eight entries in the £45,000 feature prize of Saturday’s seven race Betway Challow Hurdle day fixture - Newbury’s last meeting of 2019.
The lightly-raced Thyme Hill has progressed with each start since making a winning bumper debut at Worcester last season.
He finished a neck behind Master Debonair at Cheltenham in November and four months later finished a staying on third in the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham won by Envoi Allen.
After a pair of Grade 2 victories in the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Thyme Hill is 12-1 second favourite with Betway for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Thyme Hill has followed a similar path to Fingal Bay, who won the Challow for the stable in 2011 after winning the same Chepstow and Cheltenham prizes on the way.
Hobbs said: “The Betway Challow Hurdle is definitely where Thyme Hill is going on Saturday. His hurdling career couldn’t have started any better. It’s all gone very well. I think he probably is the best of our novices this season but we have others to run yet.”
“He is very genuine, goes well on soft ground and is in very good form. He would have to be one of my best novices since Fingal Bay as I think Thyme Hill will be my first Challow Hurdle runner since then.”
Former winners of the Challow include Denman, Wichita Lineman, Diamond Harry, Reve De Sivola, Taquin Du Seuil and Barters Hill.
Nicky Henderson saddled Champ to win the prize 12 months ago and could have two representatives with Son Of Camas and The Cashel Man, both last time out winners at Newbury. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls could saddle Enrilo, a Grade 2 winner at Sandown last time.