Philip Hobbs favours Brown Advisory for Sporting John

Philip Hobbs is favouring the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase over the shorter Marsh Novices’ Chase for Sporting John at the Cheltenham Festival.

The lightly-raced six-year-old came from way off the pace to win the Grade One Scilly Isles at Sandown this month, on just his second start over fences.

That form looks strong, with previous Grade One winner Shan Blue in second, and Hobbs is left with a choice of taking on Monkfish over three miles or Envoi Allen over two miles and five furlongs next month.

“I think it’s far more likely that he will run in the three-miler (Brown Advisory) – although we still have the option of the Marsh,” said the Somerset trainer.

“But I think unless it is very deep ground he will go for the longer race.

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“He got better and better as the race went on at Sandown – and as it was only his second run over fences, you can understand that a lot of it was through greenness. But in the end he won quite comfortably.”

Hobbs’ stable star Thyme Hill was slightly unlucky in last year’s Albert Bartlett behind Monkfish and was beaten only narrowly by Paisley Park last time out, having got the better of Emma Lavelle’s popular hurdler at Newbury earlier in the season.

The pair are set for another mouth-watering clash in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

Hobbs said: “With Thyme Hill, he is bang on course for the Stayers’ Hurdle and won’t run before it.

“He’s in good form – and ground-wise with him, it really doesn’t make any difference.”

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