Racing: Knight puts Edredon's hibernation on hold

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The Independent Online

The deal seemed to be that Edredon Bleu would have only one race before an assault on the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March.

The deal seemed to be that Edredon Bleu would have only one race before an assault on the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Yet, following his heartwarming fourth successive victory in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Saturday, it appears the gelding may have to play his cards once more before the Festival.

The gelding's trainer, Henrietta Knight, reported yesterday that "Blue" and "Matey", the much-vaunted Big Mate who went down with all guns blazing at Ascot, also on Saturday, were undamaged by their weekend ventures and that the former might persuade connections to dismiss their initial decision to clad him in bubblewrap until the festivities at Prestbury Park.

"That was the immediate reaction," the trainer said yesterday, "but there is just a chance that if it stayed dry and the race cut up a bit that he could go for the Tingle Creek [at Sandown on 8 December].

"It's quite close, only two weeks, but he's only had one race this season. Normally he's had two – in the old days he used to go to Exeter first. I think he's as good as ever. He's a wonderful horse and always raises everybody's spirits – he's got a good following now. He's like a pony to look at, not very big."

Best Mate surrendered his unbeaten record over fences in Berkshire, but there were no tears in the camp. "He ran a super race," the trainer said. "He's still quite an inexperienced horse racewise. If he's okay, I think he'll go to Sandown for the Intermediate Chase [over three miles on 7 December] – I think [Nicky Henderson's] Bacchanal is going there too. That's still the plan."

The trainer also had news of Returning, who recorded her fourth consecutive success when flooring odds-on Bounce Back at Ascot. "She's an incredible mare, she keeps surprising us," she added. "We keep saying we are going to give her a rest but she is pulling everyone around the yard this morning. She wants to go again somewhere."

The money to scream about yesterday was available in Japan. The Land Of The Rising Sun repelled all borders in the Japan Cup in Tokyo, filling the first five places before allowing Michael Stoute's Golan to strike a blow for the overseas guests.

The Japanese economy may be ailing but that did not prevent T M Opera O extending his record as the winning-most horse in terms of prizemoney in the history of the turf. And he did not have to win to further pile up the Yen, failing narrowly to post a successive victory in the race as Jungle Pocket became the first Japan Derby winner to win the nation's premier event in the same season.

As in the previous day's Japan Cup Dirt it was two American horses, in this case With Anticipation and Timboroa, who set a furious gallop round the first bend. Coming into the final turn, though, the whole field was closely bunched with none going better than T M Opera O under jockey Ryuji Wada. Olivier Peslier on Jungle Pocket was hard at work through the long Tokyo straight, and had to be at his very strongest to gradually reel in the favourite and pass him just yards from the post.

Three and half lengths back in third was the 1999 Kikuka Sho (St Leger) winner Narita Top Road. Stay Gold, who beat subsequent Breeders Cup Turf winner Fantastic Light by a nose in the Dubai Sheema Classic last March, was a neck away in fourth, and fifth was T M Opera O's old rival Meisho Doto.

"I'm on top of the world – it is the most marvellous thrill for me to win the Japan Cup because I have ridden in Japan many times and so I'm really delighted," Peslier said.

"Jungle Pocket is the Derby winner and I am really proud of the way he has run today in this field. I was bumped a little at the start, but he settled well and I got a good run through."

Stoute said of Golan: "He's run well but he ran a little bit keenly early on. On the far turn he was a little far back but he ran on well up the straight."