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Small field could suit Dunlough Bay

Paul Webber feels it is worth taking a chance with Dunlough Bay in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Sandown tomorrow.

Trained by Lawney Hill in bumpers last season, the six-year-old has looked a different proposition over obstacles since joining Webber and runs in the Grade Two registered as the Winter Novices' Hurdle.

Second at Worcester on his debut for the yard, he won with his head in his chest last time out at Lingfield. "It's a step up in class but I thought it was worth having a go," said Oxon-based Webber.

"We were going to run him last weekend but it was abandoned and this looked the sensible place to come. With the weather looking so unsettled, at least we'll get a run into him. It's a small field and there's plenty of money on offer.

"I think he should handle the ground and this race is his crossroads. We'll know which route to take after it. He'll either go in the EBF final back at Sandown or in a different direction."

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is represented by Southfield Theatre, who will be making his hurdling debut.

Having run well in two bumpers for Caroline Keevil, he opened his account in that sphere on his debut for Nicholls at Cheltenham in October. "It's his first run over hurdles and he'll be much sharper for the experience," said the Ditcheat handler.

Le Bec was impressive on his hurdling debut at Kempton for the Emma Lavelle team, while Jonjo O'Neill's Taquin Du Seuil went close in a hot novice hurdle at Ascot on his second start in this country.

The Donald McCain-trained Up And Go, a former point-to-pointer and a bumper winner at Uttoxeter 20 days ago, completes the field.

Sprinter Sacre and Sanctuaire, meanwhile, will face off in Saturday's Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in the first big clash over two miles this season.

The handicapper has the pair rated only 3lb apart, with Nicky Henderson's Arkle winner Sprinter Sacre just ahead of the Paul Nicholls-trained Sanctuaire.

Sprinter Sacre appears to have the chasing world at his feet having gone unbeaten through his novice season, with a victory against his elders in the Game Spirit Chase also on his record.

Sanctuaire has only had three races over fences but has looked a natural. His 17-length victory over Victor Chandler Chase winner Somersby in the Celebration Chase over the course and distance showcased his talents in full.

Nicholls also runs the Graham Wylie-owned Doeslessthanme, second to Wishfull Thinking at Cheltenham first time out this season.

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