Festival hope set to step up in trip with Ascot run next month likely next target
We had to settle for second place behind Special Tiara in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last week, but the Betway Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March certainly hasn’t been ruled out as a target even though the plan is to step him up in distance next time.
I’ve said before we’ve been thinking about tackling more of a trip with him, so we’ll do that now and see what happens. I had mentioned a race for him at Kempton on Saturday week, but that race will probably come too soon, so the likely plan is to head to Ascot the following week for the Ascot Chase on Saturday 14th February.
We’ll know more about where we are with him then, but I can assure you that he’s still running to the same level as last year, he’s just taking on better horses now that he’s up against older horses and out of novice company.
When they jumped off at Kempton, Wayne (Hutchinson) just simply couldn’t lay up with the winner at any stage. He couldn’t sit a yard closer as Special Tiara ran flat out the entire way and we were, in the end, found wanting. He closed up to within 2 ½ lengths at the line and had Third Intention 19 lengths further back in third. Colin Tizzard’s horse had finished six lengths behind us at Sandown in the Tingle Creek, so I suppose he’s stepped up from that run.
The one thing to reiterate is that the I’m not yet ruling out any target at the Cheltenham Festival and he’ll hold entries in both the Ryanair Chase and the Betway Champion Chase. He’s certainly in the mix for both and don’t forget they’ve got a hill to climb at Cheltenham too! We’ll know more after Ascot.
Read Alan King’s weekly column in the Racing Post Weekender every Wednesday to get the low-down on all his other runners.